On Saturday, 15th April, several aircraft including a SAUDIA Airbus A330 and SkyUp Airlines Boeing 737 was damaged at Khartoum International Airport after clashes broke out between Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the army.
A SAUDIA Airbus A330-300, with registration HZ-AQ30 which was scheduled to operate flight SV458 bound for Riyadh, reportedly caught fire at Khartoum Airport during the clash.
Passengers had already boarded the aircraft for departure, however, they were evacuated via slides after the A330 caught fire. According to reports, HZ-AQ30 was the only Saudi A330 on the ground at Khartoum on the morning of the fighting.
Footage shared on the internet shows one of the evacuation slides of the aircraft deployed, although witnesses claim that all crew members are currently safe and inside the airport terminal.
Although there is no independent verification, social media has been circulating photos that depict the Saudia plane on the airfield, with a broken vertical stabilizer and black smoke billowing from the fuselage.
“SAUDIA clarifies that its A330 aircraft, flight number SV458 was involved in an accident at Khartoum International Airport before taking off to Riyadh at 0730hrs UTC this morning, Saturday, April 15”.
Alongside, a SkyUp Boeing 737-800, probably with registration UR-SQH also caught fire during the armed fighting in Khartoum. Multiple other aircraft have also been damaged as many of them were hit by RPG fire and gunshots.
According to the BBC, during the attack on Khartoum Airport, a shell hit a passenger aircraft, resulting in at least two confirmed deaths. However, additional information is still pending confirmation.
Flight Cancellation and Airport Closure
According to local reports, the RSF has taken over control of Khartoum International Airport and all flights have been cancelled affecting thousands of passengers. The Sudanese army has been bombing the city & airport of Khartoum.
Moreover, following accusations of being attacked by the army first, the RSF have claimed control over the airports in the northern city of Merowe and in El-Obeid in the west. Gunfire was reported in various areas of Khartoum, and eyewitnesses stated that there was a shooting in nearby cities as well.
As a result, all flights leaving Khartoum Airport have been cancelled. Affected airlines include Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Flynas, flydubai, Egyptair, and SAUDIA, among others.
Flights that were on their way to Khartoum have reportedly been denied landing permission, leading to a suspension of air traffic at Sudan’s largest airport for an unspecified duration.
Several flights to Khartoum have also been cancelled, including those operated by Emirates, Turkish Airlines, flydubai, and SAUDIA, among other carriers. In a statement, SAUDIA confirmed that it has cancelled all flights to Sudan stating,
“All flights to and from Saudan have been suspended until further notice. SAUDIA’s emergency team immediately responded, working alongside all relevant authorities, led by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Republic of Sudan, to obtain more information about this accident.”
Furthermore, Sudan’s paramilitary has posted on Twitter stating that it has seized control of both Merowe Airport and a military base.