First passenger plane in four months lands in Yemen's Aden

A Yemenia Airways plane at the airport in Aden on August 6, 2015, the first civilian aircraft to land in Aden in more than four months (AFP Photo/Saleh Al-Obeidi)

Aden (AFP) - A passenger plane flew into Aden on Thursday, the first civilian aircraft to land in Yemen's second city in more than four months, airport director Tarek Abdo said.

The Yemenia flight from Djibouti brought home 158 Yemenis who had fled fierce fighting between Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels and forces loyal to the exiled government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

Aden, Hadi's last refuge before he fled with his government to neighbouring Saudi Arabia, was overrun in March by the rebels who last year seized Sanaa and other parts of the country.

The city has been devastated by fighting and strikes launched by a Saudi-led coalition since end of March.

The airport, including the control tower, sustained heavy damage.

In mid-July the government backed by the Saudi-led coalition announced it had liberated Aden and later reopened the airport.

"The airport is now secure and can receive civilian flights, namely those bringing home refugees or flying in humanitarian aid," said Abdo.

But he stressed that for the time being only some planes will be able to land in Aden, and that there were no immediate plans to resume regular flights to the airport.

Nearly 100,000 Yemenis have fled abroad since late March, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR says.

The war in Yemen has killed nearly 4,000 people, half of them civilians, while 80 percent of the 21-million population needs aid and protection, the UN says.

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