Yemen is set to issue a $500m tender for the expansion of Sanaa International airport in the coming months as the government tries to stimulate the economy. 

A number of international companies have submitted prequalification documents to the country’s civil aviation and meteorology authority and a shortlist is currently being compiled. The list is expected to be finalised in September and the contract tender will be floated.

Phase 2 of Yemen’s main airport has been postponed a number of times, mainly due to the continued instability in the country. The revival of the project comes as Abu Dhabi-based airline Eithad Airways, launched its first flight to Sanaa. The inaugural flight landed in Yemen’s capital on 1 September.

The direct four-times-a-week Abu Dhabi-Sanaa flights are expected to help strengthen trade and investment in Yemen, a country where approximately half the population live in poverty. The flights could also help boost the country’s weak tourism sector. According to local press, tourism revenues in Yemen rose by 9 per cent in 2012 compared to the previous year while the number of foreign tourists increased by 5.5 per cent.

The airport expansion project was originally launched in 2007. In 2008 the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development agreed to extend a $160m loan to help finance the expansion.