Monday, November 5, 2012

■ TUNISIA: Government blocks launch of Jasmin Airways.

Tunisia's government has again moved to protect its loss-making national carrier Tunisair (TU) this time, by blocking the launch of startup Jasmin Airways, set to operate charters out Enfidha Airport using two Airbus A320 from early 2013.

Jasmin Airways
Jasmin Airways, Tunisia
News reports out of Tunisia state that the Tunisian Ministry of Transport did not grant the carrier operating rights, effectively grounding it before it even began operations.

With an initial investment of USD12.7million (TND20million), the airline, once in the air, would have created 850 jobs according to founder, Tunisian businessman Hassan Amaidia:
"Jasmin Airways, once created, is expected to create 850 jobs, including positions for 150 direct jobs and 700 indirect jobs. The Ministry of Transport has adopted a protectionist stance and has always opposed the creation of other private companies. This is misguided! For the Ministry of Transport believes that by this decision, he is protecting the national airline. Our young company and all new private companies cannot compete in any case."

With Tunisia in negotiations at present with the European Union over a possible Open Skies deal, akin to that already in action in Morocco, commentators argue that Tunisair is ill equipped to counter the forces of a free market, let alone Open Skies with Europe and its horde of LCCs:
"Morocco and Tunisia are comparable markets. Both countries are a major European tourist destination and tourism is a key sector of the countries’ economies. They have a significant amount of ethnic travel to/from western Europe and the majority of their international capacity in terms of seats is deployed on routes to/from western Europe. If an EU-Tunisia Open Skies accord materialises, LCC traffic will develop and Europe’s no-frills operators will swiftly take a leading role as the segment is underdeveloped in Tunisia."