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South Sudan gets new airline

altA new airline, Southern Star, has been launched in South Sudan. The airline has taken delivery of its first aircraft, a Bombardier Dash 8.

ALS of Kenya supplied the airline with a Bombardier Dash 8 Q100 on a long term lease. According to Kenya’s Standard Media, the 37-seat aircraft is costing the South Sudanese airline around US$200 000 a month to lease.

"This is expected to be a long-term partnership with the new start-up airline that is vying for national carrier status for the new republic of South Sudan," said ALS chief executive officer Cornwell Muleya during the signing ceremony held in the South Sudan capital, Juba, when it took delivery of the aircraft last week.

The initial schedule has the aircraft flying twice a week to Rumbek, twice a week to Aweil, four times a week to Wau and three times a week to Malakal.

South Sudan lacks developed transport infrastructure, making air travel a safe and fast way of crossing the world’s newest country - it has been estimated that South Sudan only has less than 100 km of paved roads.

According to eTurbo News, Southern Star will receive another leased aircraft from ALS in the future to expand the new airline’s route network to the wider region. This will be a 50 seat Embraer 145.

At the moment, air traffic in and out of the capital Juba comprises mostly of foreign airlines, but the fledgling country will soon start negotiating with neighbouring countries regarding air travel rights for its first local airline. Southern Star said it wishes to commence flights to international destinations as early as the beginning of next year.

“An international team of airline experts heads the airline, working on the training and development of South Sudanese nationals in the building of an airline that will be a shining star to the country,” stated Ahmad Issa, Southern Star’s Chairman and Managing Director.

“As I believe in the growth and prosperity of the new nation of South Sudan, so I believe in the growth and prosperity of Southern Star Airlines. Hand in hand, we will build an airline that will truly be ‘The Southern Pride’.”

Southern Star is also working on creating a cargo division.

Another South Sudanese airline is Feeder Airlines, which started operations in 2007. It has three aircraft in service, including two Fokker 50s and one Boeing 737-300.