Sudan Airways’ staff union oppose management decision to retrench 80% of its workers

Sudan Airways’ staff union oppose the management’s decision to retrench workers, after a first group of 207 employees received dismissal letters this week.

While speaking to reporters on Thursday in the capital city of Khartoum, the Union Chairman Ala Aldien Babikir said, “This plan is unfair and we will appeal to the council of ministers, courts and human-rights organizations,” Bloomberg reported.

Prior to this development, Sudanese state minister Ibrahim Yousif Banj had hinted that the airline was considering dismissing 80% of its staff in order to tackle challenges faced in international banking transactions and importing vital spare parts. The carrier had grounded 12 of its 14-strong fleet after it couldn’t source parts from Boeing Co. and Airbus SE.

Staffing “is too large at a time when we have no planes flying currently — the only two planes we maintained recently have now stopped,” Banj said in an interview in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, without giving the number of aircraft. He added that the company now hires planes from other carriers for its remaining services.

The carrier is one of the oldest in Africa and has been plagued with a long history of suspension and international restrictions that has limited operation. In the wake of the crash of Flight 109 in June 2008, the airline was grounded following an indefinite suspension of its operating certificate by the Sudanese government, despite it was stated as not being in connection with the accident. This decision was later rolled back and the company was allowed to resume operations.

Sudan Airways has also been included in the list of air carriers banned in the European Union since March 2010. In October, the U.S removed some trade restrictions it imposed in 1997 on accusations that Sudan sponsored terrorism.

“Apart from some spare parts we imported from some countries recently,” said Banj, “we can’t so far reintegrate ourselves in the global market and the international donors and big financial institutions haven’t offered any kind of support.”

According to a Bloomberg report, Banj also noted that the U.S. decision to still list Sudan—alongside North Korea, Syria and Iran—as a state sponsor of terror has prevented the airline from finding fresh financing.