Yemen calls for UAE bids in $500m airport plan
SANAA // Yemen's transport minister has called on UAE companies to participate in a US$500 million tender next month that would revamp the country's airport infrastructure and improve services and operations management.
Yemen's government is undergoing an expansion of its airports at Sanaa and Aden, amid ambitious plans to boost tourism revenues to the country. The current project at Sanaa's airport will introduce 12 new air bridges, four halls, and facilities to handle 18 aircraft at the same time, said the transport minister, Waed Batheeb.
The disclosure came as Etihad celebrated its first flight to Sanaa. Dozens of government officials came to receive senior executives at the Abu Dhabi carrier as tribal dancers with daggers put on a show for their Emirati guests.
"We are [one people], separated in two countries, and we hope this new route will be the beginning of a relationship that will result in further fruitful investments," said Mr Batheeb at the airport's VIP terminal. The economy of Yemen, the poorest nation in the Middle East, could grow 4.4 per cent this year, up from 0.1 per cent last year, according to IMF estimates.
GDP contracted 10.5 per cent in 2011 amid the uprising that ended the rule of the president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
This year's budget envisions a deficit of US$3.2 billion, which will be financed in part by foreign aid, said the central bank governor, Mohammed bin Hammam.
About 300,000 passengers travel between the two countries annually. Etihad's new route is expected to increase that figure to 380,000. Mr Batheeb said there were 90,000 Yemenis in Abu Dhabi. "This is the first time that the two capitals' routes are linked," said Khaled Al Mehairbi, Etihad's senior vice president for government and aeropolitical affairs.
In the past, passengers had to take Yemenia Airway to Abu Dhabi, via Yemen's second city Aden. Yemenia's route is only available once a week.
Etihad begins its route to Sanaa with four flights a week.
In June, the Abu Dhabi airline started new routes to Sao Paulo in Brazil.
* with Bloomberg News
Published: September 2, 2013 04:00 AM