Juba (South Sudan) based South Supreme Airlines announced suspension of flight operations on Thursday 10th September owing to the scarcity of dollars in the country.
The country has been suffering from high cost of dollars on the black market and unavailability of dollars through official exchange points. Recently, it is mostly only influential government officials who can access dollars at the official rate.
Meanwhile, many legitimate businesses are unable to secure enough foreign exchange for their operations at the official rate, including South Supreme.
“The pilots and engineers are paid in dollar. They have gone unpaid since the last six months because they are foreigners, they are not South Sudanese,” owner Ayii Duang Ayii said in a press conference on Thursday.
South Supreme Airlines is an airline based in Juba. It started operations in 2013 and operated a fleet of several aircrafts out of Juba airport.
Ayii Duang, owner of the company, explained that he did not have dollars to pay for regular maintenance, fuel costs and other requirements. He pointed out some aircrafts were recently taken to Jordan, France and Holland for maintenance.
He noted that the company’s global insurance expired and that it needs to be renewed. “The international insurance of the company needs to be paid in dollars, and we couldn’t transfer the money. So the aircrafts will not be allowed to fly,” he said.
The South Sudanese businessmen said the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank failed to give them dollars to continue operating.
“We have pounds in Ivory Bank, the bank wrote a letter to the Governor of Central Bank to pay us dollars, but he did not approve it. That’s why we have stopped,” Ayii explained.
Ayii hinted that they may opt to resume operations in South Sudan if there are enough local customers who can afford to pay in dollars. “A flight to Wau will be for $400, to Yei will be for $200 and to Yambio will be for $30