Tunisia’s government-owned airline, Tunisair, dates to 1948 when Air France invested in the startup and assigned it DC-3s which flew one-stop to France, Italy, and Algeria.
Today the carrier operates 29 aircraft, including 20 Airbus narrowbodies, 7 Boeing 737-600s, and 2 Airbus A330 widebodies. 22 of these planes are currently grounded.
On Monday the carrier reportedly fired its CEO Olfa Hamdi according to a note posted by the government to Facebook. Hamdi had been on the job for just over a month, and her announced dismissal came in the midst of a general strike by some of its 6500 employees.
Employees were fearful of not getting paid after the airline’s bank account was seized by Turkish airport operator TAV over nonpayment of bills, and also that her turnaround plan might include privatization, though she has written “The solidarity of public institutions is one of the bailouts” (that’s a statement that could have been made by American Airlines CEO Doug Parker).
According to the country’s Ministry of Transport and Logistics, the CEO was “relieved..from her duties as the General Director of Tunisian Airlines.”
On February 19, 2021, staff members of state-owned Tunisair held a protest over the seized assets, demanding the government to clear the plans of restructuring and save the national airline from closure.
In response to the protests, “the precautionary seizure, aimed to recover €8 million, against a total debt of €20 million, was lifted,” the TAP News Agency confirmed. Following the agreement, the protests were cancelled.
Not so fast, though, because CEO Hamdi says she is still CEO after a failed attempt by the government to arrest her.
On my way to the Tunisian Airlines headquarters at am, after I called the Minister of Transport to inform my dismissal from its absence, the Minister of Transport assured me this morning that I am still in the middle of my duties, and this government tried to arrest me If it wasn’t for the honorable people inside Tunisian lines and the security people who alerted me to this phone and I wouldn’t fall in this ambush.
This and I condemn all those who prevented the honorable Tunisian lines from commencing their work today.
…Mr. Minister, transparency is a big part of the responsibility and I believe in this principle and it is enshrined in chapters 10 and 15 of the constitution, and I will have an appointment with public opinion to clarify sooner or later.
The current system is a tomb for youth and women.
My Lord is with Tunisia 🌷
There is also, apparently, an investigation into her educational degrees as part of the pretext for her removal.