Saudi airline staff jeddah sudan
Saudi citizens and staff of Saudi Airline pose for a group photo as they arrive at Jeddah Sea Port after being evacuated on a Saudi Navy Ship from Sudan to escape the conflict, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, April 23, 2023. Image Credit: Saudi Ministry of Defence/Reuters

Cairo: The crew of a Saudi airline plane, damaged last week by gunfire at the Khartoum airport, has arrived in the Saudi port city of Jeddah.

The crew had been evacuated along with dozens of Saudi citizens and people from other countries Saturday and arrived aboard vessels at Jeddah.

The Saudi television Al Ekhbariya aired footage of the crew members’ arrival at Jeddah where they were welcomed and seen happy and waving the Saudi flag.

The kingdom’s Foreign Ministry said 91 Saudis and 66 foreigners had been safely brought to Jeddah in an evacuation operation conducted by the Royal Saudi Naval Forces.

The evacuated foreigners were from Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Egypt, India, Kuwait, Qatar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Tunisia and the UAE.

Last week, the Saudi national airline, Saudia, announced suspension of its flights with Sudan “until further notice” after one of its passenger aircraft came under fire and was damaged at the Khartoum international airport due to the clashes prior to its takeoff to the Saudi capital Riyadh.

The clashes erupted on April 15 in Khartoum between the Sudanese army and the powerful paramilitary unit, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and soon spread to other cities of Sudan.

Each side blamed the other for igniting the violence, which has fanned fears of a wider conflict in the Northeast Africa and prompted international calls for de-escalation.

Sudan’s civil aviation authorities have announced extending closure of the country’s airspace until April 30.