Airports are an essential element of the vital infrastructure of countries. Airports playing a key role in attracting economic and investment opportunities to the areas where they are located.
The airports are the gateway to building a modern transport network in the country. A modern and efficient transport network is one of the key factors for completing the investment infrastructure in any country. Airports contribute to the movement of people, goods and services to all parts of the country and around the world. Airports also contribute greatly to the promotion and development of the national economy, where economic engines are paid more effectively and efficiently, which contributes to the creation of new jobs and improve economic output.
The airports have direct effects and indirect economic effects. Direct effects result from the purchase of goods and services at the airport, the construction work, and expenditure by passengers on airlines using airport services. There are also indirect effects of commercial and tourist activity in the surrounding areas at the airport, creating job opportunities and economic operation of high efficiency.
Therefore, the closure of airports and the suspension of their activities lead to negative results on the local economy of the airport’s area directly, where business and tourism in the region are affected by the freezing of the airport’s activity.
This is what has actually happened to the city of Mukalla of negative effects reflected on the local economy and commercial activity, tourism and services because of the closure of Al Riyan Airport.
It is not only the economic effects that determine the extent of the damage from the closure, but the humanitarian situation as the citizens of Hadramout the Coast who benefit from the services of Al Riyan Airport also suffered.
Statement of the Problem
Since the occupation of Al-Qaeda of Mukalla in April 2015 and to the present moment, the international airport of Al-Riyan is still out of operation, except for a few exceptions for official flights to government delegations and military flights.
Therefore, here we seek to search for the economic and humanitarian effects of the continuation of the closure of Al-Riyan Airport even after the liberation of Mukalla in 2016.
We will discuss the extent of the economic situation of Hadramout in general and its coast specifically, especially in light of the closure. We will also explain the negative effects on the sectors of trade, tourism and investment in the governorate due to the continuity of the situation.
On the other hand, we will discuss the humanitarian situation in light of the closure, both at the level of travel abroad for treatment, or the hardship of citizens to travel for education, mobility or for other living purposes.
In the 21st century, you will not find a city with an economic and developmental ambition without an airport. As airports are considered as the foundation of infrastructure and the first step to enter the world of economic and development competition.
The city of Mukalla, and the whole cities of the coast of Hadramout, suffer from the continued closure and freezing of the activity of the International Airport of Al-Riyan. Al-Qaeda’s control of Hadramout the coast stopped the activities and after the liberation, the closure continued even with the government’s ongoing letters of near return of re-work of the airport.
The reasons for the continuation of the airport’s closure are related to security and military factors. There are other reasons for that related to rehabilitation and development at the airport, but this does not exempt the local authority from taking responsibility for the economic and humanitarian consequences suffered by the cities of the coast of Hadramout as a result of the continued closure of the airport.
Just as the airport and its operating efficiency are an economic opportunity for the growth of projects and services, its closure is a threat to some of the projects and services associated with the airport.
Taxi drivers working at the Airport Department were mainly affected by the closure, and airport service workers lost their jobs as well )summary interviews with a sample of airport employees, 2018)
The damage is not only to the basic services accompanying the travel and the airport, but also to other projects such as travel and aviation agencies; as the number of travel agencies in the coast of Hadramaut reaches approximately 36 )guide to the city of Mukalla Trade-Rawaj Guide-2010( .
With the closure of the airport, the business was largely frozen in those offices and agencies. The revenues for all offices and agencies fell significantly and very far, forcing some agencies and offices to close their work or reduce the number of employees.
The hotels in the city were also affected by the decline of their patrons) results of surveys of a sample of tourist hotels in the coast of Hadramout, 2018(. One of the reasons for this is related to the closure of the airport, which benefits the citizens of the neighboring areas, as the hotels of Mukalla were considered as a gathering point for the airport of Al-Riyan.
The most prominent economic impact of the closure of Al-Riyan Airport is the increase in travel costs for the citizens of the coast of Hadramout, especially the movement and travel of traders and businessmen, as traders and businessmen are the most segment of people who travel between Yemen and abroad.
The closure of the airport has added an additional cost of travel for them. Travel costs have increased to 85% of the travel cost. Land travel within Yemen are risky, leading traders and businessmen to bear the costs of more escorts who did not need them in their travels before when they used to travel by planes. In addition to travel more time and more effort, time and effort for traders and businessmen is of high value and is considered an additional cost.
Of the additional economic costs is the increase of the cost for bringing in technical experts from abroad (abstracts Interviews with a sample of traders and businessmen in the coast of Hadramout, 2018), Many of the works and factories were damaged by the closure of Al Riyan Airport. One of the forms of damage was the difficulty of bringing technical experts to maintain, install or work and supervise some of the work that needed technical experts from abroad. The closure of the airport led to an increase in the cost of recruitment from abroad. Many of these outside experts refused to be brought in because their access to the Hadramaut the coast would increase the risk land travel.
Closed Door Tourism
One of the most economic activities affected by the closure of Al-Riyan Airport is the tourist activity. It is not possible to imagine tourist activity in light of the closure of the main port to attract tourists and external visitors to Hadramout the Coast.
Mukalla specifically and the coast of Hadramout in general, have a great tourist attraction. Tourism is an important economic destination for the economies and projects of the region. However, the closure of Al-Riyan Airport and the continuity of that closure led to a decrease in foreign tourism activity to approximately 0% (results of surveys of a sample of tourist hotels in the coast of Hadramout, 2018). However, there is internal tourism movement that flourished with the outbreak of conflicts in some other cities such as Sanaa and the deterioration of services in others, such as Aden.
The damage is not only in tourism activity with the shrinking of tourists and visitors from abroad, it extended to the difficulty of organizing entertainment and tourism activities with external participation. The difficulty of bringing in foreign participants (bringing in artists or participants from abroad) in the tourist activities of the coast of Hadramout has become an obstacle. With the closure of the airport, the cost of bringing in external technical and recreational participants increased. Both travel, insurance and security costs for those participants, where the costs reached 250% higher to organize events more than before (summary of interviews with tourist and recreational institutions in the coast of Hadramout, 2018).
One of the effects of the closure of Al Riyan Airport is the humanitarian crisis and suffering of citizens in public travel or in travel for education and treatment.
As the closure of Al Riyan Airport increased the suffering of citizens in the coast of Hadramout and neighboring areas dependent on this airport as the only airport to the outside world in the area.
Travelers in general are making more effort, time and additional cost than the time it takes to travel and move in the pre-closing period of Al Riyan Airport. The citizens of Hadramout the Coast are forced to travel to Say’un to travel abroad through that airport. As for sick travelers, this way of travelling is a psychologically and healthily intolerable suffering.
The cost of transport is also an additional cost. Staying at home for at least one day is an increase in the cost, effort and time spent traveling while shortening it all by moving to Al Riyan Airport.
Students studying abroad are one of the forms of humanitarian crises of Al-Riyan Airport closure. The student who carries the burdens of study and scientific research is constantly suffering crises even when he is abroad. His suffering represents in many issues as the delays of paying the studying fees by the government or other financial problems. However, the problem of closing Al-Riyan Airport is no less than other problems which cause suffer for the students of the coast of Hadramout whom their number estimated 400 students annually (evaluation surveys and statistics collected from institutions of external scholarship of Hadramout the Coast, 2018)
Therefore, the closure of the airport has become a psychological effort and extra burdens for the student who is studying abroad. This large number of students is forced to travel through the Sultanate of Oman. This means a transfer of at least 14 hours by land, additional effort and the cost of travelling and visa to enter and stay in Oman.
The other option they have is to travel through Say’un Airport, which means moving to Say’un by bus. That causes additional costs, effort, psychological and physical burdens without mentioning the fear of the delayed flights at Say’un Airport. All of these factors affect the students’ commitment to their educational and research obligations.
The current circumstances in our country represent a historic turning point in shaping its future. In these circumstances, the basic principles of a decent life must be provided and secured in accordance with the aspirations of the citizens of this country.
Therefore, the re-operation of Al-Riyan Airport is one of the essentials for the decent life of Hadramout the Coast and for the neighboring regions and governorates. The continuity of the closure will make the crisis continue, a humanitarian crisis first and secondly the waste of economic opportunities and resources that the local authority could exploit. Finally, the re-operation of Al-Riyan airport will cause the alleviating of the impact of other crises affecting the economy and society.