Yemen’s national carrier, Yemenia Airways, is set to launch on June 17 its first flight to transport pilgrims from Sanaa International Airport to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj, Yemeni Information Minister Moammar al-Iryani said on Thursday.
Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, has been under the control of the Iran-backed Houthi militia since 2014, prompting an Arab coalition to intervene to back the internationally recognized government.
Al-Iryani said that decision to launch flights from Sanaa International Airport to Jeddah and Medina airports was made upon the directives of the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) President Rashad al-Alimi and with the cooperation of Saudi Arabia, al-Iryani said in a tweet on his account.
“Despite the difficult situation and the actions taken by the terrorist Houthi militia targeting Yemenis and restricting them, al-Alimi is exerting vigorous efforts on various level to alleviate the suffering of citizens,” al-Iryani said. He added that the PLC head is coordinating with “brotherly and friendly countries” to provide facilities for Yemenis in light of the exceptional circumstances that that the country is experiencing.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah confirmed the news, saying in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) that the decision was rooted in the Kingdom’s keenness to ensure Yemenis from different parts of the country were able to perform Hajj.
“Hence, it was decided to facilitate the Yemeni pilgrims arrival to perform Hajj from Sanaa International Airport to Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, similar to the rest of the land and air ports with Yemen.”
Hajj is set to begin on June 26 – pending an official announcement by authorities.
This year’s pilgrimage will see about 2.6 million Muslims come together to perform the Islamic ritual for the first time since COVID-19.
Fighting in Yemen diminished considerably after a UN-brokered ceasefire was announced in April 2022. The truce expired in October, but fighting has largely remained on hold.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Yemen Mohammed al-Jaber traveled to the Houthi-held capital in April is an attempt to stabilize the truce, he said at the time.