Yemen: Restart of flights from Sanaa expected on Monday

Government says plane will depart with passengers who want to receive medical treatment in Jordan's capital Amman

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Passenger flights from Yemen's Sanaa airport are expected to restart on Monday, after weeks of complications delayed the resumption.

A plane travelling to Jordan's capital Amman will be the first commercial flight to take off from the capital's airport in six years, because of the civil war, Yemen’s Foreign Minister Ahmed bin Mubarak said.

“After great efforts from the Yemeni government, the Arab alliance, the UN envoy and the co-operation of our brothers in Jordan the first flight will be rescheduled on Monday from Sana'a airport,” Mr bin Mubarak said on Twitter.

The development will “alleviate the suffering of our people, which will remain our first concern and priority”, Mr bin Mubarak said.

The transport minister in Sanaa said on Friday that the flight was ready to operate.

The resumption of flights is one component of a UN-brokered two-month ceasefire that went into effect in early April.

But flights have been delayed as warring factions could not agree on the type of travel documents passengers could use.

The inaugural flight under the truce was planned for April 24 from Sanaa to Amman but had to be scrapped after national carrier Yemenia said it did not receive the necessary permits.

The flight was expected to transport passengers in need of urgent medical treatment to the Jordanian capital.

The government said passengers who live in Houthi-held areas could not use passports issued by the rebel group, a move that forced the cancellation of the flight. Information Minister Moammar Al Eryani said the Houthis were trying to exploit the humanitarian crisis by issuing "unreliable" passports.

The internationally recognised government has now accepted a short-term compromise, Yemen's embassy in Washington said on Twitter last week. Yemeni authorities accepted "a UN proposal to use Houthi documents on an interim basis and only during the truce".

At the time of the delay, the aid group Norwegian Refugee Council warned Yemeni authorities that the inability to operate commercial flights out of Sanaa had stranded "tens of thousands of medical patients" seeking treatment abroad.

"It is encouraging to see the parties finding solutions to resume the flights from Sanaa airport," the NRC's Yemen country director, Erin Hutchinson, said on Friday.

"Let's hope that this will actually lead to regular commercial flights and more, like the opening of roads in Taez and other governorates," Ms Hutchinson said, referring to a Yemeni city subject to a years-long siege.

For years, the internationally recognised govern­ment and coalition have accused Iran of sending military advisers and weapons experts to support the Houthi rebels. In April last year, Rostam Ghasemi, a senior official in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps told Russia Today that Iran had military advisers operating in Yemen.

The airport in Sanaa has been closed to commercial traffic since August 2016. Aid flights continue to land in Sanaa, although service has periodically halted because of the conflict.

Daily flights out of government-controlled Aden in the south and the central city of Seiyun operate domestically and connect Yemen to other countries in the region.

Updated: May 15, 2022, 10:50 AM
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