Yemen’s Sanaa International airport will reopen after over six years, with civilian flights set to begin on Sunday, April 24. The first flight is scheduled to take off from the Yemeni capital’s airport to the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman at 8 am. The reopening of the airport is part of the United Nations-brokered ceasefire that began on April 2, coinciding with Ramadan. The ceasefire is between the Houthis, which control the capital Sanaa along with most of the northern part of the country, and the regime backed by the Saudi-led coalition that controls parts of the south.
On Thursday, the national airlines announced the news on its social media, saying, “Good news for all travelers. Yemenia Airways announces one flight per week from Sanaa to Amman and back, beginning on April 24.” The airlines also expressed appreciation for the UN’s efforts in negotiating the ceasefire.
The airport had been under an illegal blockade imposed by the Saudi-led military coalition following its military intervention in the country in March 2015, roughly a year after the Houthis ousted the regime of president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and took control of large parts of Yemen. Since then, only sporadic flights for humanitarian and evacuation purposes were operated. The Saudi-led coalition, during the course of the war, carried out numerous airstrikes and bombings, causing significant damage to the facility. The coalition had also blocked other strategically and economically important points of entry, such as the Hodeidah port, as part of its economic war against the Houthis and Houthi-controlled areas. This prevented the import of urgently needed food items, medicines and other humanitarian aid for millions of Yemeni civilians who are dependent on this aid for survival.
As part of the current ceasefire, the blockade on the port in Hodeidah is also expected to be lifted in the coming days.
Responding to the news of the airport reopening, the United Nations Envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, tweeted “I welcome the announcement of the first flight from Sana’a airport in 6 years on Sunday, April 24, heading for Amman. I’m grateful for the invaluable support of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and for the constructive cooperation by the Government of Yemen. Congratulations to all Yemenis for this much needed and long-awaited step. I’ll continue to work with the parties to ensure all elements of the Truce are upheld, and to build on its momentum towards a sustainable political solution to the conflict.”
UN spokesperson Stephanie Dujarric said that the first flight in more than six years is an “important element” of the two-month truce agreement, and urged all parties to ensure that the ceasefire holds and the first flight can take off smoothly. The UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres also hailed the news as “the start of a better future for the people of Yemen.”