Why things are looking good for Badr
Badr Airlines is the latest in a growing list of carriers to join the African Airlines Association (AFRAA). Alan Peaford found about the airline and its ambitions.
Just two years after starting Badr Airlines, the Khartoum-based privately owned carrier has gone through the initial birthing pains and is now ready for a growth spurt.
Deputy chief executive, Almutaz Ahmed Shora, was attending the AFRAA annual assembly and exuded confidence.
“A lot of people don’t know us,” he said, “but I am sure that by this time next year they will.”
Badr was founded in 2014 by its chief executive, Ahmed Osman Mohamed Ahmed Abu Shaira, and Hashim Yousif El Digair. The joint-owners believed they could apply service standards that would change the Sudanese market.
“There is Sudan Airways and, on the main route from Khartoum to Cairo, there is EgyptAir. But there was room for a high-standard carrier and we provided those service standards,” Shora said.
The results speak for themselves. On the Cairo route, previously dominated by the Egyptian national carrier, Badr is recording 100% load for its business-class and increasing economy figures. “The flight is full. And that is down to quality of service,” Shora said. “We need more aircraft and more opportunities.”
Badr currently operates six classic Boeing 737 aircraft and was expecting three more to join the fleet by January 2017. “We will have 11 aircraft by June and 15 by the end of 2017. It is ambitious but I look forward to being back at AFRAA at the end of 2017 and it being a reality,” he said.
The airline currently serves five domestic routes and offers regional and international flights to Juba in South Sudan, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, and Egyptian capital, Cairo.
“At the moment, we operate four rotations to Cairo but will be offering 10 flights a week as the new aircraft are introduced,” Shora said.
It will also add to its international listings with a planned coupling with Dubai.
Growing operations has been challenging. Sudan remains on a sanctions list, which makes trading and investment difficult. “We can’t help politics,” Shora said. “We focus on being an airline. It is tough but we are getting there.”
Bahr’s target is to reach the two million passenger target by the end of 2017 – more than three times its current 600,000.
The key to growth will be the Khartoum hub. “At the moment, there is no transit terminal. You wouldn’t meet humanitarian standards keeping people on the aircraft for an hour at a time so we began discussions with the airport authority. The result is that we have the green light to develop a transit lounge at the airport, which will open in 2017.
“We see great potential where passengers can buy tickets in Dhofar, for example, and get to Cairo through Khartoum without complication. It opens up the potential.”
The airline is also working with the airport authority to develop other services, such as fast-rack for premium passengers.
With a 98.2% on-time departure rating, the new carrier is achieving targets. “We have really focused on customer service and customer relations. On board – even on a 15-minute domestic flight – we can serve a hot meal. People are noticing the difference.”
Premium passengers are a clear target for Badr and reputation is at the heart of its offering.
Badr has been keen to meet international standards with its training and MRO facilities. It has worked with Lufthansa for flight crew training and EgyptAir for cabin crew. Maintenance is carried out in Latvia.
It may be small now – but make Badr a name to remember.