Suspension of Flights from Sanaa Airport Reveals Fragility of Peace Process  in Yemen

Sheba Intelligence | 2023-10-01 12:00 PM UTC
Suspension of Flights from Sanaa Airport Reveals Fragility of Peace Process  in Yemen


Yemenia Airways will halt its commercial flights from Sanaa to Jordan this month, dealing a blow to the Oman-UN-led peace efforts in the country.

On Saturday, officials at Yemenia Airways said their talks with the Houthi government on releasing the funds the company owns in Sanaa reached a dead end.

This fresh dispute between the company and the Houthi authorities poses a challenge to peace efforts in the country and will lead to tensions between Yemen's warring sides.

The sources said Yemenia could not withdraw US$80 million from Sanaa-based banks. The carrier proposed the Houthi administration take 70% of the funds while the remaining 30% would go to the internationally recognized government. With the Houthis rejecting the offer, the company's leadership decided to suspend the six flights the airline operates at Sanaa Airport weekly.

The Sanaa Airport was reopened in April last year as part of a U.N.-sponsored ceasefire between the Houthis and the internationally recognized government. Though the truce expired in October last year, the flights were allowed to continue mitigating civilians' suffering and building trust between the warring sides.

Late Saturday, the Houthi Transport Ministry said the suspension of the Yemenia flights from Sanaa International Airport indicates that the "aggression countries" are not serious about peace efforts.

The Houthi-run Sanaa News Agency quoted the Sanaa-based Transport Ministry as saying the Yemenia Airways company is a cheap tool for the Arab coalition that continues the blockade on airports, doubling the suffering of the Yemeni people.

The statement added that Yemenia's statement was untrue, and this move aimed at continuing the blockade and compounding the suffering of the Yemeni people.

Since the start of negotiations between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi group in April last year, the Houthi authorities have been demanding the lifting of the blockade on Sanaa Airport, and they have considered meeting this demand as a vital step towards peace progress. With the airport closed again for commercial flights, the hope for the success of regional and international peace efforts is faint.

An employee at Yemenia Airways in Sanaa told Sheba Intelligence that the decision of the company's leadership was unexpected and shocking. He added, "We thought Oman-UN-led mediation would at least prevent the closure of Sanaa Airport. The cancellation of flights is a bad sign about the future of talks, and such development frustrates millions of Yemenis."