A unnamed source recently revealed to National Yemen the real story of international airlines flying to Sana’a and their quick decision to suspend their flights. The suspension comes as a result of the activity of Houthi armed militants who attacked the Sana’a Airport late afternoon on September 21st, 2014. They stopped a Fly Dubai aircraft 20 minutes after landing and they banned Yemeni aircraft from flying to Bombay.
The militants took over the airport tower and demanded that pilots allow full inspections. A Fly Dubai plane was landing at the airport when the Houthis approached the Austrian and American pilots, asking them for a full inspection and security check. The pilots refused at first but the local staff interfered and asked the pilots politely to give them the chance to check the aircraft. The staff working for Fly Dubai said the Houthi militants were hooligans, checking the cabin, bathrooms, beneath seats and drawers.
While Houthi militants were inspecting the aircraft, the American pilots contacted the head office in Dubai describing their case and asked them to contact Sana’a airport to free the aircraft. Officials at the airport allow the aircraft to fly back home safely. Fly Dubai then stopped flights from Dubai Sana’a up to day.
As a result of that, Emirates, Etihad airlines, Qatar Air, Turkish Airlines, Gulf Air, Jordanian Airlines and Egypt Air announced the suspension of their flights to Sana’a. Four airlines have resumed flying to Sana’a including Turkish Airlines, Jordanian Air, Gulf Air, and Egypt Air including the regular operation of the local airlines Yemenia and Felix airways who remains operative.
Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airlines, Qatar Air and Fly Dubai extended their suspensions. Saudi Air suspended flights to Sana’a one week before the Houthi takeover the airport. On the third day, Turkish Airlines decided to fly to Aden rather than Sana’a to avoid the same fate as Fly Dubai. Turkish airlines is the only European airlines flying to Sana’a.
This action by Houthis has caused damage for the airline industry and travel agencies in Yemen who complain of losing their business because of the foolish actions. Houthi militants still control the airport. The government has requested them to dress in military uniforms and act politely to passengers.
One travel agency told National Yemen that they are thinking seriously of dismissing some their staff if the situation remains like this. The business is dropping day by day and the solutions won’t happen before the Eid Holiday.