First commercial flight lands at Aden airport after blockade
Yemen’s national airline said a commercial flight landed at Aden international airport yesterday after acquiring security permits, a step that will ease a blockade on one of the poorest Arab nations.
The Saudi-led military coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels last week announced it had closed all air, land and sea ports in Yemen to stem the flow of arms from Iran to the Houthis.
The move came after Saudi Arabia intercepted a missile fired towards Riyadh, which it blamed on Tehran.
A Yemenia airlines official said a flight took off from Cairo and landed in Aden before returning to the Egyptian capital. He said flights would increase over the coming days.
The UN has said a total blockade could cause famine in Yemen, where war has killed at least 10,000 people in the past two and a half years.
In the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, the UN dismissed Houthi claims that a Saudi-led air strike had destroyed the navigation station of the international airport.
Yemeni officials in Sanaa, which is held by the rebels, said the airport runway had also been damaged. But the UN said most of the airport remained intact and that it would be able to receive aid shipments once they restart.
Jamie McGoldrick, of the UN office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs said UN staff had visited the airport and spoken to authorities there.
“The runway, taxiway, ramp, terminal and air traffic control tower were not hit and are in good condition. This will have no impact on our operations once they resume,” Mr McGoldrick said.
The US-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been at war with Houthi rebels since March 2015. The coalition closed all Yemen air, land and sea ports last week in response to a rebel ballistic missile attack on Riyadh.
On Monday, it said it would reopen ports in areas held by allied forces and loosen restrictions it had raised after the firing of the missile, which was intercepted near Riyadh’s international airport.
But Mr McGoldrick said there was “no indication” yet of the blockade being lifted.