First flight in six years from Yemen's Sanaa airport postponed

First flight in six years from Yemen's Sanaa airport postponed
The Yemeni government accused Houthi rebels of trying to 'smuggle' Hezbollah and Iran's Revolutionary Guards affiliates onto the Sanaa-Amman flight.
2 min read
24 April, 2022
Commercial flights have not departed from Sanaa International Airport in six years due to a Saudi-led coalition blockade [Getty]

Yemen’s national carrier announced late on Saturday that its first scheduled flight in six years has been postponed.

Sanaa’s international airport had failed to obtain flight operation permits, Yemenia said in a statement posted to its Facebook page, delaying the flight until further notice.

"The company deeply apologises to the passengers for failing to operate Sanaa International Airport’s first flight and hopes that all problems will be overcome in the near future, allowing the company to resume its flights," the airline said.

The flight, was scheduled to depart from the port city of Aden at 8:00 am local time, stop off at Sanaa, then land in Amman. The flight's passengers were headed to the Jordanian capital to receive medical treatment.

The re-opening of Sanaa’s airport was part of a UN-brokered truce between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels beginning on 2 April, coinciding with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The airline did not explicitly say why they were unable to procure flight permits, but the Saudi-backed Yemeni government blamed the Houthis for the postponement, alleging they had tried to "smuggle" members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah onto the flight, according to AFP.

"The government had approved 104 passengers, the Houthis refused and insisted on adding 60 more passengers with unreliable passports," Informations Minister Moammar Al-Eryani reportedly said.

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Meanwhile, Sanaa-based Raed Talib Jabal, the deputy head of civil aviation, said the Saudi-led coalition's refusal to permit Sunday's flight was "a violation of the truce".

The flight’s postponement is a setback for the truce deal, which was set out to provide some relief from violence in the country which has been enduring a seven-year-long war.

The re-opening of Sanaa airport, which only permitted sporadic humanitarian and evacuation flights since the 2015 embargo, was also expected to provide an economic boost in the war-ravaged country.