The Kenya Airline Pilots Association has called for a suspension of commercial and chartered flights to South Sudan in efforts to free Kenyan pilots captured on January 9.
South Sudanese rebels have vowed they will not release the pilots until compensation is paid to the family of a civilian killed when their plane crashed in Akobo, in the Greater Upper Nile region.
“We urge all Kenya commercial and charted flights operators to withhold flights into and within the North-Eastern Upper Nile State until such a time as our Kenyan colleagues are released, and the security of Kenyan pilots, as well as Kenyan-registered aircraft within the region is guaranteed,” the association’s acting General Secretary Captain Murithi Nyagah stated.
He added the Sh20 million ransom that the rebels are demanding is beyond normal compensation for any person killed in commercial aviation practice.
Kenya’s Ambassador to South Sudan last month initiated negotiations with South Sudan’s Transport Minister John Luk in Juba to chart a forward in securing the release of the pilots.
The two pilots were captured by Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) rebels when their plane crashed following a technical hitch.