UN welcomes first commercial flight at Sana'a airport in six years

This was one of the conditions of the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels to participate in peace talks
Yemeni airport image

REUTERS/FAWAZ SALMAN  -   Yemeni airport image

The UN special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, on Monday welcomed the first commercial flight from Sana'a airport in nearly six years as part of the truce that came into effect last month between Shi'ite Houthi rebels and the internationally recognised Yemeni government.

"I would like to congratulate all Yemenis on this important and long-awaited step. I hope this will bring some relief to Yemenis who need to seek medical treatment abroad, pursue educational and business opportunities, or reunite with loved ones," Grundberg said, according to a statement from his office.

The first commercial flight operated by Yemen Airways from Sana'a airport that took off this morning from the Yemeni capital to Amman with more than a hundred Yemeni passengers, the vast majority of them sick, is part of the two-month UN-sponsored truce, the first nationwide one agreed since 2016 in Yemen.

This air connection was scheduled to take place last April 24, but was delayed by a dispute over passports issued by the Houthis, which was eventually resolved.

"This should be a time to come together to do more, to start repairing what the war has broken and to honour all the truce commitments to build confidence and move towards the resumption of a political process to end the conflict," Grundberg said.

He also thanked Jordan for "its invaluable support and for the constructive cooperation of the Yemeni government in facilitating the flight.

The resumption of commercial flights from Sana'a airport is one of the conditions of the Iranian-backed Shi'ite Houthi rebels to participate in peace talks to end the war that has caused thousands of deaths and the world's worst humanitarian catastrophe, according to the UN.

Since August 2016, only UN or international aid agency flights have left or entered the airport after the Saudi-led military coalition, which controls airspace in Yemen, closed the airport to commercial flights.