First commercial flight in six years takes off from Yemen’s Sanaa airport

The first commercial flight in six years from Sanaa Airport in Yemen (SAH) departed for Amman, Jordan (AMM)on May 16, 2022.

The flight was operated by Yemen’s national carrier, Yemen Airways, also known as Yemenia. It had 130 passengers onboard, the majority of whom were patients needing medical treatment abroad. 

Civilian flights have not operated from Sanaa airport since March 2015, when  a no-fly zone was imposed in the entire country due to the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen. The only flights operating Sanaa from then on were those by foreign countries to evacuate their nationals.

The May 16 flight to Amman was planned as part of the United Nations-brokered 60-day truce agreement that the internationally-recognised government and the Houthi rebels struck early April 2022.

Since April 2020, Houthis have taken control of all of North Yemen except for the eastern Marib Governorate. 

As part of the truce, the United Nations and the Houthis  agreed to operate two commercial flights a week to and from Sanaa to Jordan and Egypt. The first commercial flight out of Yemen was planned for April 24, 2022 but was postponed ‘indefinitely’ over a disagreement over flight procedures, before finally taking place on May 16, 2022. 

“I would like to congratulate all Yemenis on this important and long-awaited step. I hope this provides some relief to the Yemenis who need to seek medical treatment abroad, pursue education and business opportunities, or reunite with loved ones,” the United Nations’ special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, said in a statement.

“This should be a moment of coming together to do more, to start repairing what the war has broken, and to follow through on all the truce commitments to build trust and move towards resuming a political process to sustainably end the conflict.”

The United States has also welcomed the first commercial flight out of Yemen, saying in a statement that the country is “witnessing its calmest period since the war began, and these flights are an important step in further improving the lives and opportunities for the Yemeni people.”


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