Tunisair CEO Olfa Hamdi, appointed head of this struggling national company last month, was sacked Monday by Transport Minister Moez Chakchouk, due in particular to communications deemed inappropriate.
Ms. Hamdi, a 30-year-old engineer with expertise in major project management, was at loggerheads with the powerful UGTT union center, and had published documents relating to union dues in recent days on Facebook.
Mr. Chakchouk criticized him for having in particular “failed in his duty of reserve”, and not to have collaborated with his ministry.
Olfa Hamdi also recently launched in the United States a Center for Strategic Studies on Tunisia with the support of an American lobbying firm with a strong presence in the energy and raw materials sector. The revelation of these links by a site specializing in influence lobbies caused controversy in Tunisia.
This new dismissal comes as Tunisair’s accounts were frozen by the courts last week at the request of the Turkish operator TAV due to unpaid bills.
Protests by worried employees took place last Friday, and an agreement is underway to lift this measure.
Tunisair suffers from a lack of investment, heavy debts, and an excessive number of employees with around 7,800 employees for a fleet of less than 30 planes, of which only six to eight are currently operational, according to the ministry.
Its reform is a thorny subject. The implementation of a restructuring plan negotiated in 2017, providing for layoffs, remains limited.
The government paid 30 million dinars in emergency last week to pay Tunisair suppliers, while some of its subsidiaries are struggling to pay salaries.
Tunisair remained without a leader for several months in 2020, after Elyes Mnakbi was sacked in July, following a dispute with the former government over the bailout.
In addition to its chronic difficulties, Tunisair has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
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