x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UAE air charter firms help South Sudan evacuations

The global aircraft charter service Chapman Freeborn says it is engaged in humanitarian charter flights from South Sudan.

Locals and foreign nationals gather at Juba International Airport as they wait for flights out of the South Sudanese capital. REUTERS/Hakim George
Locals and foreign nationals gather at Juba International Airport as they wait for flights out of the South Sudanese capital. REUTERS/Hakim George
UAE-based aircraft charter companies are getting calls to help evacuate people from South Sudan as violence spreads in the country.
Clashes erupted last weekend after a failed coup attempt. Yesterday, the United Nations began evacuating "non-critical staff" from Juba, the capital of South Sudan.
The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011.
The global aircraft charter service Chapman Freeborn said it had engaged in humanitarian charter flights from South Sudan.
The company has an office in the Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority.
"Chapman Freeborn Aviation Services have performed multiple high-profile evacuations on small and mid-size jets for multinational corporations, governments and oil and gas industry workers who were evacuated from Juba International Airport," said Christina Stanley, the company's spokeswoman.
The evacuations included the repatriation of foreign nationals and refugees.
As security in South Sudan has become uncertain, the company has been using its offices in the UAE, Britain, South Africa and the US to coordinate evacuation efforts.
Support for the evacuation flights was provided by a company subsidiary Wings 24, which oversaw the provision of flight permits, aircraft fuelling and ground handling at airports, Ms Stanley said.
Meanwhile, the Dubai-based United Aviation Services (UAS), which arranges for aircraft through a third party, said it had helped to organise 15 evacuation flights this month from Juba to European Union countries.
While some flights had only five passengers, others had as many as 100, said Jay Ammar Husary, the company's director of operations.
"We help in any kind of situation, and have done [humanitarian operations] in Libya and the Philippines," he added.
Humanitarian evacuations account for less than 10 per cent of the company's business. VIPs and private businesses comprise the bulk.
The budget carrier flydubai is still operating flights to Juba, which it added to its network in April, although services were suspended for a day last week when the airport was closed, said a spokesman. The carrier flies four times a week to Juba.
Flights between Juba and Abu Dhabi are continuing as usual for the business-jet airline Al Jaber Aviation.
But the Abu Dhabi-based private charter airline Royal Jet has stopped arranging flights to South Sudan because of the deteriorating security situation.
The Dubai-based Empire Aviation Group has also halted its charter flights from South Sudan to the UAE, doing so several months ago, according to a spokesman.
Falcon Aviation Services, based in Abu Dhabi, said it received an evacuation request from South Sudan, but it was cancelled at the last minute.
"I think the reason they cancelled is because we operate charter flights of around 14 people, and the client wanted a bigger commercial aircraft to evacuate people," said a spokesman.
"However, we have more requests from clients in South Sudan. We sent them invoices and we are waiting for their confirmation."
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