At least 25 people are dead while at least two large commercial aircraft sustained heavy damage after Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Sudanese armed forces (SAF) clashed in Khartoum on Saturday, April 15. During the fighting, two people were killed at Khartoum International Airport, while RPG fire and gunfire saw a Saudia (SV, Jeddah International) A330-300 and SkyUp Airlines (PQ, Kyiv Boryspil) B737-800 go up in flames.

The fighting, which has spread outside Khartoum in recent days, is part of an ongoing civil war in Sudan and continuing hostilities between the paramilitary RSF and the SAF. The RSF are resisting a power sharing deal which will involve their integration into the SAF as part of a proposed transition to civilian rule. On Saturday morning, as hostilities broke out in Sudan's capital, on the ground reports say the RSF took control of Khartoum Airport as jeeps laden with RSF armed fighters swarmed onto the aprons.

Footage is circulating on social media showing black smoke billowing from both aircraft which were parked at remote stands at the airport. In the background are the sounds of gunfire and explosions. Still images show the tail section of the SkyUp B737-800 blown off and the emergency chutes deployed. A SkyUp spokesperson said it was impossible to assess the extent of the damage to the aircraft which has been in Sudan since the start of the year under a ACMI contract with Sun Air (Sudan) and operating flights to Cairo International, Jeddah, and Riyadh. The SkyUp B737-800 has been identified as UR-SQH (msn 30292) and the Saudi A330-300 as HZ-AQ30 (msn 1834).

The Saudi A330 had operated a scheduled flight, SV458 from Riyadh, earlier on Saturday. In a statement following the attack on the aircraft, a Saudia spokesperson said that its emergency team, led by its embassy in Khartoum, has responded with local officials to gather more details on the incident and ascertain the damage to the plane.

All flights in and out of Khartoum are now cancelled, with multiple airlines including Air Arabia (G9, Sharjah), flydubai (FZ, Dubai International), EgyptAir (MS, Cairo International), flynas (XY, Riyadh), Saudia, Emirates (EK, Dubai International), and Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad International) all issuing their own statements saying their flights to Khartoum were suspended. "Due to the worsening unrest in the Sudanese capital, Emirates has canceled all its flights to and from Khartoum from 15 to 17 April 2023," reads the Emirates statement. "Passengers traveling on these flights will not be accepted for travel from their point of departure. We will continue to closely monitor the development of the situation."

The ch-aviation PRO airports module shows 24 airlines fly in and out of Khartoum, providing approximately 100 aircraft movements per day. In addition to the previously mentioned carriers, airlines servicing the airport include Afriqiyah Airways; Air Arabia Abu Dhabi; Air Arabia Egypt; Berniq Airways; Ethiopian Airlines; flyadeal; Kenya Airways; Nile Air; Royal Jordanian; Safe Air; SalamAir; Turkish Airlines; and Yemenia. Sudanese carriers including Sun Air, Badr Airlines, Nova Airways, Sudan Airways, and Tarco Aviation have all suspended flight operations.

Flight tracking ADS-B data is showing other airlines which normally travel through Sudanese airspace are also detouring to avoid it. In addition to Khartoum International Airport, there are some media reports suggesting the RSF has seized control of other airports in Sudan, including Merowe. However, late on Saturday evening, the SAF denied that the RSF had taken control of airports and other key infrastructure in Khartoum and elsewhere. There were reports of Sudanese Air Force jets flying low over the capital to flush out RSF forces.