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Port-au-Prince airport reopens after eleven weeks of closure

Passengers queue at the Sunrise Airways counter at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on May 20, 2024, the first day of commercial flights since the airport closed in March due to gang violence – Copyright AFP Clarens SIFFROY

The international airport in Haiti’s capital reopened to commercial flights on Monday, about two and a half months after the airport was forced to close due to gang-fueled violence.

So far, only one airline, Sunrise Airways, has announced a resumption of flights between Port-au-Prince and Miami, Florida.

A flight bound for the southeastern US city left Toussaint-Louverture airport on Monday afternoon, Sunrise told AFP, the first departure since its closure in March. Amid the violence – which continues to rock the capital – the airport itself has previously come under fire.

Passengers lined up at the airline counter with luggage in hand.

Sunrise said the flights are currently scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

American Airlines, for its part, told AFP that its flights to and from Haiti are currently suspended until May 29 due to “civil unrest” in Port-au-Prince.

“We will continue to monitor the situation with safety and security as our top priority and will adjust our operation as necessary,” the airline said.

Toussaint Louverture International Airport had been closed to commercial flights since early March, following coordinated attacks by gangs who said they wanted to overthrow then Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

Henry, who has since resigned, was unable to return home while in Kenya at the time of the attacks due to insecurity around the airport.

Since then, a transitional government council has taken the reins of Haiti, with one of its main missions being to appoint an interim prime minister and restore some semblance of order.

Kenya will soon send police officers to Haiti to lead a UN-backed multinational mission aimed at tackling the gang violence plaguing much of the capital.

An official Haitian source told AFP that senior Kenyan officers had already arrived in Haiti on a reconnaissance mission.

A first contingent of Kenyan police could be deployed this week to coincide with a state visit to the United States by Kenyan President William Ruto.