Emirates flight forced to turn back to Dubai after Sudan airspace closes

Sudan's military seized power on Thursday, overthrowing President Omar Al Bashir, and announced a 24-hour closure of the country's airspace

Demonstrators wave their national flag as they attend a protest rally demanding Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir to step down outside Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer   NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
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An Emirates flight bound for Khartoum was forced to turn back to Dubai following the closure of Sudanese airspace.

The country’s military seized power on Thursday, overthrowing President Omar Al Bashir following months of protests against his rule.

The country’s new military rulers immediately announced the closure of its airspace for 24 hours, forcing a number of flights already in the air to reroute or turn back.

They included Emirates flight EK 733, which had already departed Dubai for Khartoum on Thursday when it received notice about the closure.

A spokesperson for Emirates confirmed a later flight also had to be cancelled.

“Due to the closure of Sudanese airspace, Emirates flight EK 733 which departed to Khartoum on April 11, was returned to Dubai and flight EK 734 on April 11 from Khartoum to Dubai was cancelled.

“The latest flight schedules can be found on Emirates.com."

The airline called on travellers to contact their booking agent or Emirates reservations to rebook their flights or make alternative travel arrangements.

“We are sorry for any inconvenience caused to our customers. The safety of our passengers and crew is of the utmost importance and will not be compromised,” the spokesperson said, adding that the airline continues to monitor the situation closely.

A number of carriers fly directly between Khartoum International Airport and cities in the UAE, including FlyDubai, Etihad Airways, Sudan Airways and Air Arabia.

Etihad Airways flight EY632 to Khartoum — Sudan's capital and largest city — was understood to have also been turned back following the closure of the airspace on Thursday. And the carrier has since temporarily suspended flights to the city.

"We continue to monitor the situation and will advise of any changes through the usual channels," a statement from the airline said.

"For further information, please call the Etihad Airways Contact Centre on +971600555666. Guests can also check the status of their flight on our website at Etihad.com or through the mobile app."

FlyDubai also cancelled a number of flights, including FZ635 between Dubai and Port Sudan and FZ635 between Khartoum and Dubai, which were both due to depart on Friday.

"Passengers booked to travel to and from Sudan are advised to contact their Travel Agent or our Contact Centre in Dubai on (00971) 600 54 44 45 to rebook to a later flight or receive a full refund," said a spokesperson for FlyDubai.

Sudanese airspace is expected to remain closed at least until Friday afternoon.