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Yemen carrier suspends international flights from rebel-held Sanaa

By AFP
October 02, 2023

SANNA: Yemen´s national carrier has suspended international flights from the country´s capital, officials have said, citing a dispute with the Iran-backed Huthi rebels over access to funds.

Yemenia operates near-daily commercial flights to the Jordanian capital Amman -- its only direct international destination from Sanaa´s Huthi-controlled airport which reopened last year following a six-year hiatus.

On Saturday, an official with the Huthi transport ministry told the rebel´s Saba news agency that “Yemenia flights have been suspended from Sanaa airport”.

In a statement, the airline blamed the rebels for the move, accusing them of restricting access to company accounts in Sanaa banks since March -- a charge the Huthis have denied. Yemenia said it was barred from accessing more than $80 million in deposits, causing “severe damage to the company´s activity”.

It said its six flights per week from Sanaa to Amman would stop after the end of September “in light of the company not being allowed to withdraw from its accounts”.

The airline will continue, however, to operate flights from Aden -- the current seat of the internationally-recognised government.

Yemen erupted into conflict in 2014 when Iran-backed Huthi rebels seized Sanaa, prompting a Saudi-led military coalition to intervene the following year to prop up the internationally-recognised government.

The Saudi-led military coalition shut down Sanaa´s airport in 2016 as part of an air and sea blockade on Huthi-held areas.

Before the blockade, the Sanaa airport had an estimated 6,000 passengers a day, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council, an international charity with operations in Yemen. Since the airport resumed commercial flights to Jordan last year, those flying out of Sanaa have included Yemenis seeking emergency medical treatment abroad.