The closure follows a re-opening ceremony last week attended by the UAE's ambassador to Yemen
After running only one trip, UAE re-closes Al-Rayyan airport to commercial flights
A few days after Al-Rayyan International Airport in Mukalla officially re-opened and the Yemeni Civil Aviation Authority declared it ready to operate, United Arab Emirates (UAE) forces stationed there have re-closed the airport after just one flight.
With the exception of a Yemenia Airways flight that landed at Al-Rayyan last week from Cairo, Al-Rayyan has not hosted any commercial flights since its closure five years ago.
Located in Mukalla, the capital of Hadhramout governorate along Yemen’s southeast coast, Al-Rayyan is the largest airport in the area.
A source at Yemenia airlines’ Hadhramout office told Almasdar Online that the company has not yet obtained licenses from the Saudi-led coalition to operate commercial flights. Al-Rayyan intends to operate flights to Cairo, Jeddah and Socotra once the coalition permits.
The source did not explain why the permits were not issued, despite an official announcement of the opening just last week. This announcement was made in the absence of Yemeni Transport Minister Saleh Al-Jabwani, who has previously called on the Saudi-led coalition to lift restrictions on commercial air traffic at Yemeni airports.
The UAE's ambassador to Yemen, the Deputy Prime Minister of Yemen and the Governor of Hadhramaut attended a re-opening ceremony at Al-Rayyan airport last Wednesday. At the ceremony, they thanked UAE leaders for opening the airport to civilian flights after using it as an Emirati military base for years.
In his speech, the Deputy Prime Minister called on the Saudi-led coalition to allow aircraft to stay at the airport.
The continued suspension of flights at Al-Rayyan sparked public outrage after residents rejoiced at the arrival of the first civilian flight in the hope of ending the Hadhrami air blockade.
Al-Rayyan was closed after Al-Qaeda took control of the Hadhrami coast in 2015, and it remained closed to commercial flights after UAE-trained military forces took control in 2016 and made the airport a command center.
The closure of Al-Rayyan has caused significant issues in Hadhramaut as it was heavily relied on for the mobility of goods and people in the area.