A group of Saudia Airlines pilots and flight attendants have been evacuated out of Sudan one week after the plane they were on was hit by gunfire while boarding passengers at Khartoum Airport and completely destroyed.
The situation in the North African country remains so volatile that foreign governments have found it almost impossible to extract embassy workers and their citizens and have instead issued ‘shelter in place’ advisories instead.
After the Saudia-operated Airbus A330 was destroyed last Saturday, the crew were rushed to the Kingdom’s heavily fortified embassy in the Sudanese capital, where they have remained while efforts were made to open up an evacuation route.
Despite a so-called ceasefire between government forces and the rebel Rapid Support Forces (RSF), fighting has continued unabated and foreign states are becoming increasingly concerned about the safety of their citizens.
Khartoum remains in the hands of the paramilitary RSF, and thick black smoke was seen rising from the airfield on Saturday. Planned evacuation flights out of the airport had to be abandoned, but the Saudi government managed to open up a safe passage to a waiting warship on the Sudanese coast.
On Saturday afternoon, Saudi media outlets showed a video of the crew, still in the same uniforms they were wearing last Saturday, boarding the ship. The crew, who all looked relieved to be out of danger finally, smiled while waving small Saudi Arabian flags.
The Saudi navy sent a fleet of five ships to Sudan on Saturday and evacuated more than 100 citizens from around the Gulf Cooperation Council region.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.