Transport: Cash-strapped Tunisair faces major crisis

National air carrier needs urgent bailout plan

07 November, 15:18

(ANSAmed) - Tunis, November 7 - Tunisia's national air carrier Tunisair is facing a severe financial crisis which exploded this year after a difficult 2011. Tunisair's general assembly, which ended last night, called for a 'Marshall plan' to save the cash-strapped airline which should provide for major changes and cuts.

The company's results in 2011 were presented by the its Director and Secretary General Rebah Jrad in a climate of great tension although the room was not as packed as expected under the circumstance.

The number of passengers transported last year decreased 14% compared to 2010. The number of seats made available by the airline also went down 14.8%, along with a very important indicator, the number of hours flown, which went down 15.3%. The only positive result was the number of seats filled which registered a modest increase of 0.2%.

The negative context was further aggravated by losses in other sectors due to higher gas prices which went up 32%, a 14.8 percent increase of capital allowances and the airline's insurance costs which went up 38.6%. The rental of airplanes went down 89%.

Jrad said in his speech that an anti-crisis plan is ready and will be launched by the government by the end of the year.

The government will have to decide whether the plan is financially viable as the executive will have to bear its cost at a time of economic crisis.

Authorities will also have to deal with unions which in the past few weeks have been protesting against an accord giving Qatar's national airline the use of the capital's international airport Tunis-Carthage, saying the agreement gave too much of an advantage to the Gulf's powerful air carrier.

Decisions taken by Tunisair's management have contributed to the crisis, including a pay raise to 8,500 employees awarded when the general situation of the country and the international air transport sector would have perhaps required more caution, even at the risk of unpopularity. (ANSAmed)

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