Sudan grounds national airline

KHARTOUM Sat Jun 21, 2008 3:39pm BST

An image taken from video footage shows a Sudan Airways plane burning on the tarmac of Khartoum airport, June 10, 2008. REUTERS/Reuters TV

An image taken from video footage shows a Sudan Airways plane burning on the tarmac of Khartoum airport, June 10, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Reuters TV

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KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan is grounding its national carrier Sudan Airways from Monday for at least a month for breaking civil aviation rules, mainly over administration, a Sudanese official said on Saturday.

Mohamed Hassan Al-Mujammar, head of safety and flight operations in Sudan's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said the suspension had nothing to do with a Sudan Airways crash earlier this month which killed 30 people at Khartoum airport.

"The air operator certificate is hereby suspended from Monday," he told Reuters.

He cited violations such as the general manager doing two jobs and a failure to revise operations manuals as required.

"It is high time to stop this type of non-compliance with international standards," he added.

Mujammar said the national carrier argued it had been too preoccupied by the crash to take the actions urged by the CAA.

He said the airline had one month from Monday either to appeal the suspension or to carry out the necessary improvements.

"We have issued the suspension for all the operations of Sudan Airways, domestic and international," he said.

The black box of the crashed Airbus A310 has been found in good condition and sent to France for examination.

Sudan has a poor reputation for air safety especially on domestic flights. Five years ago a Sudan Airways Boeing 737 crashed near the eastern town of Port Sudan, killing 104 passengers and the 11 crew.

Sudan Airways officials were not immediately available for comment on the suspension.

The company says because of U.S. sanctions imposed on Sudan it has been unable to get spare parts and training for its planes. Sanctions have even affected the acquisition of parts for its newer Airbus fleet.

The airline flies mainly within the Middle East and Gulf region and is one of the largest carriers for domestic flights. Many European, African and Middle Eastern airlines fly to Sudan.

(edited by Richard Meares)

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