Reopening of Sana'a Airport | The suffering of closure versus the happiness of the opening

 

Sana'a Airport



 

Was written on 16 May 2022

Praise be to God, and on this wonderful day 16-5-2022, Sana'a International Airport has been reopened for commercial flights since it was closed for six years. Today in the early morning, Cinderella (Yemenia plane) landed safely.

Sana’a residents are happy as if they are watching the plane landing for the first time. On social media, many shared the happiness of children in the streets as they watched the Yemenia plane begin its gradual descent towards Sana'a International Airport. The first flight by Yemen Airways was Sana’a-Amman-Sana'a.

 

Today, I saw the happiness in the faces of my colleagues (IY +YCAMA), on the occasion of the opening of Sana'a International Airport.

 

In this article, I will explain to my dear readers from different parts of the world, why this happiness is due to the opening of Sana’a International Airport. Also, how the air passengers -from various governorates near Sana’a - suffered due to the hardness of traveling by road to other far Yemeni Airports.  

 

As well as, how the Yemen Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority suffered, plus the other airlines, including Yemen Airways as a result of the closure of Sana'a International Airport due to the continuation of the political-military conflict in Yemen.

 

In addition, how each of the mentioned parties has adapted its plans to continue to perform its tasks efficiently and make great achievements.

 

To tell you the suffering story and the challenges in the aviation sector, I communicated with many aviation professionals from all parties mentioned before writing this article.

 

 

Sana'a International Airport - Economic, Humanitarian Facts

Away from the political orientation of all parties involved in the conflict and the massive external interference with Yemen's internal political conflict, Yemen citizens have the right to travel by air for medical and humanitarian requirements from and to Sana’a Airport.

 

Here in Yemen, we are aware of the financial, physical, and psychological suffering that air passengers suffered (especially, patients, war-wounded, people with special needs, and students). 24 hours traveling time by road and exposed to many risks as reported by Yemeni press, and social medial shares.

 

In this article, I will tell you how I suffered due to travel by road (my personal experience).  

 

Note To read the details of the political agreement, click here.

 

Statistics and Facts About Sana'a International Airport 

Before the War:

  • 6000 passengers were traveling from Sana'a International Airport daily, at a proximity rate of 2 million passengers annually.
  • The country's economy was using income results from passengers traveling through Sana'a International Airport, as well as goods transported through it.

 

Also, after closing, here are the following facts: -

  • Due to the closure of Sana'a International Airport, many air passengers lost their lives - especially sick air passengers – because of the hardness of traveling by road beside their sick pain.
  • Many people lost their jobs, and the companies and suppliers that provided services to the airport were closed, or in other words, they incurred heavy losses.
  • Humanitarian associations (civil society), trade unions, and others were asking the United Nations to intervene in the opening of Sana'a International Airport for humanitarian operations.

 

Despite the lack of response for years, hope was still shining in front of them and us. Today, we witnessed their happiness, praise be to God.

 

Air Passengers suffer | the story of the pain

Despite today's happiness, I get very sad when I remember many air passengers’ sad stories while traveling by road. To be honest, there was some kind of facilitation and cooperation from all official authorities in all governorates, but the pain was in traveling by road which make sick passengers die and be in a worse health case, etc.  

 

Humanitarian observers are aware of bad air travel experiences due to the closure of Sana’a Airport. They know exactly that some air passengers sell their valuable items to get professional medical services outside Yemen.

 

Also, they pay extra expenses for hotel accommodations and car rental for more than three days before their flight departure. In addition, they pay the extra expense to get a new passport. Getting a new passport, it needs them to stay for around one week at least to complete this process and carry all expenses.

 

It is not fair

 

My travel story | from Sana’a to Seiyun by road 

In 2018, I traveled – with my colleague - from Sana’a to Seiyun by road for a training mission at Seiyun and AL Mukalla Airports. We were on a training mission to Mukalla and Seiyun Airports (as directed by Yemen Airways Chairman).

 

Oh my God, with all my health and youth, thank God, I lost my patience and strength and suffered from extreme fatigue. It took us around 23 hours to travel, in the same bus, without sleep, a change in eating habits, and being subjected to a security investigation about the reason for traveling, etc.

 

This is me, what about sick air passengers!!

 

In fact, for the third time I am saying it, many sick air passengers died on their way to other airports while Sana’a airport is near their ears. I am trying to keep staying our happiness, you can search for this problem on the web. I will not be disturbing our happiness by mentioning more horrific details.

 

You understand what I mean, are not you?

 

The same suffering experienced by Yemeni citizens when traveling by road, suffered is experienced by Yemen Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority’s employees, Yemen Airways employees such as instructors” like me”, pilots, air engineers, flight attendants, and others - we suffer for a purely humanitarian and professional goal, just to serve Yemeni citizens and minimize their suffering.

 

The challenges faced by the Yemen Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority (YCAMA)

 

1- Challenges

 

Despite the decline in revenue due to the closure of Sana’a International Airport, the YCAM’s top management strategic plan was good, and it was positive in various fields.

 

Most of YCAMA’s employees in Sana’a were scheduled between partial work and full-paid vacations and kept their salaries running throughout Yemen. The same was done by Yemen Airways' top management.

 

While the closure of Sana’a Airport was a threat, YCAMA took it as an opportunity to update its aviation law and safety regulations.

 

I noticed this, and I provided my help in training and updating dangerous goods regulations. The top management of YCAMA’s Aviation safety affairs sector was doing continual training plans and updating plans for civil aviation safety regulations.

 

Yes, with the support of the Civil Aviation and Meteorology Institute, I had an important role in implementing the training plans. I participated in the design of many training materials and conducted many dangerous goods regulations training for Sana’a Airport’s rescue and fire fighters, safety inspectors, Sana’a Airport’s customs, and aviation security personnel.

 

Also, I conducted cabin security training as well. Our Yemen Airways’ Commercial DMD, besides our security manager both, was coordinating mixed training classes and supporting our progress. From the side of YCAMA, Aviation Safety Affairs Sector’s Assistance Deputy Chairman was supervising our daily achievements. I really, appreciate the initiatives of the fire and rescue safety manager and operations management.

 

2- Achievements

 

To give you the summary of YCAMA's Achievements during the Closure of Sana’a Airport, I called the Director of Legislation at Civil AviationSafety Sector, he gave me the most important achievements which are:

1- Updating the Civil Aviation Law and submitting it for approval by the government.

 

2- Updating Civil Aviation Regulations and Legislation per the latest update of the safety & security in the latest update of the ICAO annexes.

 

3- Holding several workshops, the most important of which is a workshop chaired by the Director of Sana’a International Airport, related to updating the Sana’a International Airport emergency plan, with the participation of all professional entities, according to the requirements of ICAO Annex 14 - Part I.

 

The workshop was wonderful many colleagues from Yemen Airways participated in this workshop and I was one of them.

As well as many workshops related to the National Aviation Safety Plan, also, one related to the Voluntary Reporting System, etc.

 

4- Obtaining the ISO 9001-2015 certificate from Sustainable Management Group.

 

5. Establishing Dangerous Goods Management, updating dg regulations, and informing ICAO about the differences and Yemen state variations which were published in the ICAO Technical instruction, ICAO Doc 9284.

 

In this achievement, I was a member of a team delegated by the YCAMA Chairman.

 

The challenges faced by Yemenia Airways and its achievements

 

1- Challenges

Due to the war and the closure of Sana’a International Airport, the company’s daily flights decreased from 18 flights per day to two flights through Aden Airport and two flights through Seiyun Airport. Yemen airways had faced a decline in revenue. Despite this, the Yemen Airways chairman showed good leadership in various fields.

 

Especially, scheduling the part of the company’s employees in Sana’a to do the work, granting most employees full-paid leave, as well as keeping them doing training.

 

I had the opportunity to call the Yemenia Airways Media manager to discuss the challenges faced by our company due to the closure of Sana'a International Airport. He summarizes the challenges as follows: -

- The biggest challenge for the company was to continue serving the Yemeni citizens from all over the Republic and alleviating their suffering by operating flights in the difficult conditions of war.

 

- Yemenia Airways incurred financial losses resulting from the decrease in the number of daily flights and incurring additional operating costs.

 

- Yemeni Airways incurred financial losses due to not benefiting from the aircraft maintenance center in Sana'a, purchasing spare parts despite their availability, as well as performing maintenance abroad as a result.

 

Paying employees’ salaries for over 6 years ( for those who have no work due to suspending the aircraft operation due to the war and the closure of Sana’a Airport.

- Transfer of air operations to other airports, transfer of services of the flight crew, air engineers, and others to a new operating environment.

 

Also, Yemeni Airlines suffered a lot of additional operating losses due to alleviating the suffering of Yemeni citizens, starting with operating at two airports (Sayun and Aden), then opening Socotra Airport, Al-Rayyan, and ending with the opening of Sana'a International Airport.

 

In addition, the company evacuates 24000 Yemeni passengers from abroad with empty flights to cities which our company does not has lines to it.

 

2- Achievements

According to my follow-up to the operational situation and Yemen Airways Senior management directions, the following achievements:

1 - Expanding the fleet by purchasing several planes to alleviate the suffering of passengers, and to meet the growing demand for air travel.

 

2- Preserving the family entity of the company’s employees in the various governorates, and reducing fixed operating costs to some extent by restructuring the company.

 

3- Updating the operating manuals, especially the aviation security manual.

 

5- Continuing holding basic and refresher courses for employees who have been granted full pay leave to maintain their operational readiness for operation from Sana’a airport. In addition, holding training for the rest of the other domestic stations and external stations.

 

Summary

Despite the challenges and suffering of air passengers and the suffering of all entities as a result of the closure of Sana’a International Airport, the continuation of operation, stopping the war, and spreading peace remain the dream of every Yemeni.


I hope that the local community, the world community, and the United Nations will realize the extent of the suffering and work towards achieving peace.

Maged Saeed AL-Hadabi

I’m Instructor / Maged Saeed Al-Hadabi. ​ Air Cargo / IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations / Safety Management System Senior Instructor, Auditor [ Yemen Airways] . Approved IATA DGR/ SMS Instructor by Yemen Civil Aviation Authority. We hope you find Aviation Professional website not only informative, but interesting and helpful as well.

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