A Yemenia Airways Airbus A330-200 at Sana'a Airport on September 30, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

SANAA: Yemen’s national carrier has suspended international flights from the country’s capital, officials have said, citing a dispute with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels over access to funds.

Yemenia operates near-daily commercial flights to the Jordanian capital Amman - its only direct international destination from Sana’a’s Huthi-controlled airport which reopened last year following a six-year hiatus.

On Saturday, an official with the Houthi transport ministry told the rebel’s Saba news agency that “Yemenia flights have been suspended from Sana’a airport”.

In a statement, the airline blamed the rebels for the move, accusing them of restricting access to company accounts in Sana’a banks since March - a charge the Houthis have denied.

Yemenia said it was barred from accessing more than $80 million in deposits, causing “severe damage to the company’s activity”.

It said its six flights per week from Sana’a to Amman would stop after the end of September “in light of the company not being allowed to withdraw from its accounts”.

The airline will continue, however, to operate flights from Aden - the current seat of the internationally-recognised government.

Yemen erupted into conflict in 2014 when Iran-backed Huthi rebels seized Sana’a, prompting a Saudi-led Arab military coalition to intervene the following year to prop up the internationally-recognised government.

The Saudi-led military coalition shut down Sana’a’s airport in 2016 as part of an air and sea blockade on Houthi-held areas.

Before the blockade, the Sana’a airport had an estimated 6,000 passengers a day, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council, an international charity with operations in Yemen.

Since the airport resumed commercial flights to Jordan last year, those flying out of Sana’a have included Yemenis seeking emergency medical treatment abroad.