Yemen's Sanaa airport to reopen with first flight to Amman

Resumption of passenger services on April 24 under UN truce will makes travel easier for the elderly and ill

Yemen's national airline Yemenia announced on Thursday that weekly flights to and from the Jordanian capital Amman will start at Sanaa International Airport on April 24.

These will be the first commercial flights from the Yemeni capital in six years, due to the war there.

“Good news for all travellers. Yemenia Airways announces one flight per week from Sanaa to Amman and back, beginning on April 24,” the airline wrote on its Instagram page, early on Thursday.

Sanaa airport reopening is part of a two-month UN-brokered truce that took effect on April 2, at the beginning of Ramadan.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the resumption of commercial flights to Sanaa was among the gains of the truce and urged all the armed groups in Yemen to ensure a smooth take off this weekend.

“We count on the continued facilitation of all parties involved to ensure a successful flight on Sunday, and to continue facilitating flights as per the terms of the truce agreement,” Mr Dujarric told reporters in New York.

The ceasefire halted fighting between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the internationally recognised Yemeni government that is backed by a Saudi-led coalition.

Waddah Mubarez, who runs the Mubarez travel agency in New York and is an agent for Yemenia told The National that tickets for the flight from Amman to Sanaa were sold out in 15 minutes.

"The door to booking tickets opened at 10:55am and by 11:10am, there were no more seats left on the Airbus a330's roughly 270 openings."

"The next flight from Sanaa to Amman will be reserved for those in dire need for medical purposes," Mr Mubarez said.

With Sanaa once again an option for air travel, Yemenis will no longer have to make what can be a 24-hour-long road trip to Aden in the south, along mined roads and dangerous checkpoints to board an aircraft out of the country.

The news was greeted with excitement and optimism by Yemenis and members of the international community.

“As a resident of Sanaa, and to many Yemenis, opening of [the] airport brings much-needed relief. Travel restrictions were brutal, especially for the sick and elderly,” Yemen resident Hisham Al Omeisy wrote on Twitter.

“On this occasion, Yemenia lauds the UN truce to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people,” the airline said.

UN special envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg, who only made his first trip to Sanaa in recent weeks, despite being appointed eight months ago, welcomed the news.

“Congratulations to all Yemenis for this much-needed and long-awaited step,” Mr Grundberg said

“I'll continue to work with the parties to ensure all the elements of the truce are upheld, and to build on its momentum towards a sustainable political solution to the conflict.”

This move had been highly anticipated as travel agents told The National they had been receiving hundreds of calls a day inquiring about booking tickets for travel.

The Houthis launched an offensive on Sanaa in 2014, and the government left the capital in early 2015. The Saudi-led coalition intervened to back the government the same year.

Updated: April 21, 2022, 6:34 PM
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