Yemen govt accuses Houthis of taking national airline planes

Yemenia recently resumed operations from Sanaa International Airport [Mohammed Hamoud/Getty-archive (2022]

The Yemeni internationally recognised government on Wednesday accused Houthi rebels of seizing four planes belonging to the country’s national airline at Sanaa International airport.

The government’s official news agency published a statement that said that the rebels “unlawfully captured” three Yemenia aircraft on Tuesday, saying they had held another since around a month ago.

The planes were mostly used to take pilgrims between Sanaa, the Yemeni capital city held by the Houthis since 2014, and neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the location of Islam’s holiest sites, according to the government.

More than 1,300 Yemeni pilgrims were stuck in Saudi Arabia because of the seizure of the aircraft, the statement said.

Yemen’s internationally recognised government also accused the Houthis of freezing over $100 million of assets belonging to the national airline since March last year.

Yemenia has asked for international assistance in recovering the planes and crews, safeguarding assets, and keeping its operations going.

In October, the national airline resumed commercial flights from Sanaa airport after suspending them the month before, when the Yemeni government accused the Houthis of blocking airline funds.

Houthi officials denied this.

It is not the first time state institutions have fallen victim to the war between the Houthis and the Yemeni government.

The country’s official Saba news agency has been divided – with two rival outlets now using the name.

One supports the government while the other backs the Houthis.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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