News ID: 321668
Published: 0538 GMT May 16, 2022

First commercial flight in years takes off from Sana’a, Yemen

First commercial flight in years takes off from Sana’a, Yemen

The first commercial flight in nearly six years took off from Yemen’s capital on Monday, a major step forward in a peace process that has provided rare relief from a Saudi-led war.

The Yemen Airways flight carrying 151 passengers, including hospital patients needing treatment abroad and their relatives, took off from Sana’a for the Jordanian capital Amman just after 9:00 a.m. (0600 GMT).

Water cannons sprayed Sana’a airport's runway to welcome the airplane of the national carrier Yemenia with a ceremonial “water salute,” as the aircraft landed against a backdrop of destroyed buildings surrounding the airfield.

For Wednesday, Yemen Airways announced another flight from Sana’a to Amman and a return flight to the Yemeni capital, AP wrote.

“We have waited for this trip for three years. Because of my father’s health condition, we couldn’t take him by land to Aden. Praise be to God, the relief has come,” Ismail al-Wazzan told Reuters before boarding the flight with his father sitting on a wheelchair.

The flight is part of the UN-brokered, 60-day truce agreement struck last month. The truce, which went into effect on April 2, is the first nationwide cease-fire in Yemen in six years.

The truce accord calls for two commercial flights a week to and from Sana’a to Jordan and Egypt. The Houthi-held Sana’a is blockaded by the Saudi-led coalition.

The closure of the airport has inflicted major economic and humanitarian damage — thousands of people had lost their jobs as businesses providing services closed down or suffered heavy losses.

Before the blockade, the Sana’a airport had an estimated 6,000 passengers a day, and more than two million passengers a year, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council, an international charity working in Yemen.

UN Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg hailed what he described as “constructive cooperation” to carry out the flight.

“This should be a moment of coming together to do more, to start repairing what the war has broken,” he said in a statement. He urged warring parties to implement all truce commitments and “move towards resuming a political process to sustainably end the conflict.”

The flight was initially due to take off on April 2 but a dispute over passports issued by the Ansarullah movement had delayed the departure date. This time, the passengers were allowed with Houthi-issued documents to board the flight.

Erin Hutchinson, Yemen director at the Norwegian Refugee Council, said the take-off of the first flight was a “stepping stone towards a lasting peace for Yemen.”


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