The recent political changes in Sudan, including the creation of the newly independent country of South Sudan, have had a major impact on U.S. sanctions on Sudan. Because of the elimination of U.S. sanctions on South Sudan, U.S. operators are now able to conduct flight operations to and from that newly independent nation. However, significant restrictions remain on the ability of U.S. operators to conduct flights to and from North Sudan.
1. Current sanctions and restrictions on North Sudan and South Sudan
On July 9, 2011, Sudan separated into two nations: the Republic of Sudan (commonly referred to as “North Sudan”), with its capital at Khartoum (HSSS), and the Republic of South Sudan, with its capital at Juba (HSSJ). Due to the policies and actions of the government of North Sudan, the U.S has retained comprehensive sanctions on North Sudan. The U.S. sanctions administered by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) prohibit U.S. persons, including citizens and green card holders, from engaging in most transactions with North Sudan. In addition, the unlicensed export of goods and services to North Sudan is prohibited. These prohibitions also apply to U.S.-origin and U.S.-registered aircraft conducting flight operations to and from North Sudan. Significant penalties can be imposed by OFAC on persons and companies that violate the restrictions contained in the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations.
By contrast, South Sudan is now generally exempt from comprehensive U.S. sanctions, and U.S.-origin aircraft can fly to and from South Sudan without having to obtain a license from the U.S. government. However, South Sudan is subject to the export control provisions administered by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), and a license may be required to export or re-export U.S.-origin items, including certain items that are carried on board business aircraft that are subject to U.S. and multi-lateral export controls. It is always important to review the Commerce Control List of the Export Administration Regulations before operating to South Sudan, since these sanction programs can change with little to no notice.
2. Impact of U.S. sanctions on aircraft operations to, from and over North Sudan
The comprehensive U.S. sanctions on North Sudan impact all aspects of flight operations, to, from and over North Sudan.
With respect to overflights of North Sudan airspace, U.S.-based 3rd-party providers are authorized by OFAC under a general license to arrange and pay for overflight permits and navigation fees for U.S.-registered aircraft. Certain U.S. 3rd-party providers have obtained specific licenses from OFAC authorizing them to arrange and pay for North Sudan overflight permits and navigation fees involving non-U.S. registered aircraft.
Regarding landing permits and fees at airports in North Sudan, U.S.-based 3rd-party providers may only assist operators who have obtained from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s BIS a temporary sojourn license that authorizes U.S.-origin and -registered aircraft to travel to and from North Sudan. In addition, authorization from OFAC must be obtained in most cases. It often can take four to eight weeks to obtaining temporary sojourn licenses from BIS, as well as licenses from OFAC for flights involving North Sudan. Therefore, advance planning is crucial. Because there are currently no restrictions on U.S. persons traveling to or from North Sudan, once the BIS temporary sojourn license has been obtained, your 3rd-party provider can engage in all forms of trip support services normally incident to travel, including:
- preparing and filing flight plans with the Sudan Civil Aviation Authority
- providing weather and other flight-related information
- arranging and paying for landing/parking slots at airports in North Sudan
- arranging for catering, ground handling and ground transportation in North Sudan
- dealing with North Sudan customs and immigration issues
Because of the large number of North Sudan parties on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list, the U.S. operator and the 3rd-party provider must ensure that no transactions are conducted with SDNs or other restricted parties. Your 3rd- party provider should be able to assist the operator with this screening process.
It is also important to note that, while U.S. operators do not require a BIS license to operate a U.S.-origin or -registered aircraft to South Sudan, a temporary sojourn license issued by BIS will be necessary in order to fly an aircraft from South Sudan to North Sudan.
3. Services a U.S.-based 3rd-party provider can set up for non-U.S. operators
U.S.-based 3rd-party providers can assist with overflight and landing to North Sudan for non-U.S.-registered aircraft, as no special license is required (31 CFR 538.212(d)). This includes arrangement and providing credit for all services normally incident to travel. It’s recommended that non-U.S.-based operators check with their local governments to ensure there are no other restrictions or sanctions that may limit their operations to North Sudan.
4. Other limitations to consider when traveling to North Sudan
Your lease agreement and/or insurance certificate, as well as your company’s standard operating procedures (SOP) and internal security directives, may restrict operations involving the overflight and landing in North Sudan. Additionally, the operations specifications for charter operations may restrict travel to either country. For U.S. operators, the validity period, and specific restrictions, of your North Sudan Temporary Sojourn License will vary depending on information submitted to BIS. It is also important to consider contingency plans in the event that the geopolitical and security situations change at the last minute.
5. Issues with a possible aircraft technical issue while in North Sudan
Because of sanctions imposed on North Sudan, dealing with an aircraft-on-the-ground (AOG) event while in North Sudan can be challenging. For example, while an operator should not have a problem flying an aviation maintenance technician to HSSS (since the U.S. does not currently require licenses for U.S. persons traveling to North Sudan); the availability of spare and replacement parts in North Sudan is extremely limited, and an export or re-export license may have to be obtained from OFAC and/or BIS prior to sending spare or replacement parts to North Sudan, even in an emergency.
6. U.S. government websites with additional information on sanctions and export controls on North and South Sudan
While the elimination of sanctions on South Sudan has made it much easier for U.S. operators to conduct flight operations to and from South Sudan, significant restrictions remain on flight operations involving North Sudan. Significant challenges for operators flying to and from North Sudan include the need to obtain a temporary sojourn and other possible licenses. However, once the licenses have been obtained, your U.S.-based 3rd-party provider can assist with all travel-related and trip support services. Of course, when operating to or from North Sudan, or any other embargoed or sanctioned country, it is important to obtain up-to-date information from your 3rd-party provider, as sanctions and operating restrictions are very fluid and may change at a moment’s notice.
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About Bobby Butler
Bobby D. Butler, Jr. is Senior Vice President, Global Partnership Management. Previously he served as Vice President, Chief Compliance Officer and Director of Internal Audit of Universal. Bobby has extensive experience with compliance and international business issues and is a regular speaker on subjects such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), global anti-bribery, export controls, economic sanctions, anti-boycott, anti-trust and the like. Bobby is the former Chairman of the Board of International Compliance Professionals Association (ICPA) and a member of the Houston District Export Council. In addition, he holds membership positions with the Ethics and Compliance Officers Association, the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, the Greater Houston Business Ethics Roundtable and the American Bar Association. He is adjunct faculty with the University of Houston and Houston Community College. In addition, he serves on the advisory boards for University of Houston’s Supply Chain and Logistics Technology Degree Program and Houston Community College’s Business Curriculum and Export Academy. Bobby is a certified Compliance and Ethics Professional and holds a Masters in Business Administration – International Business with honors from Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio, Texas. In addition, he holds a BA in Political Science from Loyola University, New Orleans, LA and completed a fellowship from Loyola’s Institute of Politics. Bobby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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