24 August, 2018

Job cuts likely at Tunisair.... airline seeks government approval to lay off 1200 workers

There could be big job cuts at the national airline of Tunisia soon if the state-run airline gets government backing to lay off as many as 1200 workers.

Tunisair wants to shed the positions as it struggles with mounting losses and other difficulties that have caused flight delays and a lack of spare parts, which in turn has grounded some of the carriers fleet.

“The company is suffering from major financial difficulties because of the high number of workers and the wage bill of the company,” The airlines chief executive, Elyess Mankabi, told news agency Reuters. 

The airline currently employs some 8000 staff and operates a fleet of 30 aircraft, that's roughly 266 employees per aircraft. In comparison, Royal Air Maroc, also a state-owned airline has a fleet of more than 50 aircraft and an employee count of around 3300 people.

“We’ve proposed to lay off 1,200 workers and we await the government’s approval for this program, which will help the company ease its financial burden and get out of its crisis,” Mankabi, told Reuters. “In all parts of the world, each plane is supposed to have about 80 employees but at Tunisair, each plane has 165 workers, which is hitting the company’s balance sheets,” 

Tunisia has been suffering in the last few years, various incidents of terrorism had a drastically negative impact on the number of tourists visiting the country. There has also been some political turmoil in the African nation which has played its part in a downturn of business for the national carrier. It also faces increased competition if am Open Skies agreement with the European Union, that is currently being negotiated, is agreed and would come into force later this year. 

The Open Skies agreement will see all airports in Tunisia become open to foreign carriers, with the exception of the capital, Tunis. However, even that airport, the main hub for Tunisair, will also be open to other airlines after five years of the agreement starting.  

“It will not be easy for the company after Open Skies, but we have a reform program for the company. If implemented, we will be in the right direction,” Mankabi said.