Egypt on Tuesday resumed direct commercial flight operations to Sudan for the first time since the eruption of political crisis between Sudan’s rival generals in April when the country’s airspace was shut.
Flight MS865, operated by Egypt’s national carrier EgyptAir, departed from the Egyptian capital, Cairo, early Tuesday, and arrived in Sudan’s eastern city of Port Sudan on the Red Sea, with 120 passengers on board, according to the carrier.
Sudanese authorities welcomed the Egyptian plane by spraying it with water in a ceremonial “water salute” upon touchdown. Sameh Farouq, Egypt’s consul general in the city, also was present.
A return flight carrying 115 passengers landed in Cairo on Tuesday afternoon, EgyptAir said.
Farouq said EgyptAir would operate a weekly round trip to Port Sudan, according to the Egyptian state-run MENA news agency.
They were the first commercial flights to and from Sudan since the African nation descended into war in mid-April.
The conflict has pitched Sudan’s military, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, against the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.
The resumption of flights came a week after Burhan met with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in the Egyptian city of el-Alamein on the Mediterranean on his first trip abroad since the fighting erupted.
Sudan reopened the airspace in the east of the country in mid-August, according to the country’s civil aviation authority.
Port Sudan, which is controlled by the military, has largely spared the fighting and has become Sudan’s main entry point for humanitarian flights and aid shipments.
The conflict has turned Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, and other urban areas into battlegrounds. More than 4.8 million people fled their homes either to safer areas inside Sudan or crossed into neighboring countries. Thousands of people have been killed in the fighting.