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Yemen: Sanaa airport’s first commercial flight takes off in 6 years 

May 17, 2022 at 12:11 pm

Yemeni passengers wait to travel abroad via the first commercial airway flight from the Sana’a airport following almost six years of closure, on May 16 2022 in Sana’a, Yemen. [Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images]

The first commercial flight took off yesterday from Yemen’s Sanaa International Airport after a hiatus of nearly six years due to a blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition.

The breakthrough comes as a relief for Yemenis, especially those requiring urgent medical attention amid the seven-year conflict which has claimed the lives of nearly 400,000 people. The deal is part of the UN-brokered truce struck last month between the de-facto Houthi-led government based in the capital and the internationally-recognised government.

After touching down in Sanaa from the southern port city of Aden, the Yemenia flight carrying 126 passengers, including patients in need of treatment abroad, took off from the country’s primary international airport to Jordan’s Queen Alia International Airport in Amman. Before departing Sanaa, the plane was greeted with a water cannon salute.

READ: GCC Chief, UN envoy discuss efforts to end Yemen conflict

According to the the National, Yemeni embassy staff were waiting for the passengers to issue Yemeni nationals among them with papers to enter Jordan, which does not recognise their passports, issued by the Sanaa government. Yesterday Yemenia Airways announced that a new flight will take off tomorrow to Amman.

The resumption of select flights was supposed to take place on 24 April but was stalled after the Saudi-backed Yemeni government initially insisted all passengers needed government-issued passports. However, facing pressure from the international community, the government reversed its decision.

Welcoming the development, the Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said: “I would like to congratulate all Yemenis on this important and long-awaited step. I hope this provides some relief to the Yemenis who need to seek medical treatment abroad, pursue education and business opportunities, or reunite with loved ones.”

“This should be a moment of coming together to do more, to start repairing what the war has broken, and to follow through on all the Truce commitments to build trust and move towards resuming a political process to sustainably end the conflict.”

READ: Yemen casualties halved since ceasefire, says NGO