Monday, January 21, 2013

► TUNISIA: Tunisair boss Jrad whinges about Syphax's network expansion plans calling them "unfair."

TunisairRabah Jrad, the boss of Tunisia's national carrier, Tunisair (TU), in an interview with a local Tunisian radio station has labelled as "illegal" and "unfair" the networkexpansion plans of private Tunisian private carrier, Syphax Airlines (FS).

Last week, Syphax signed a USD600million deal with Airbus and Safran for the purchase of 10 Airbus A320s with two Airbus A330s set to arrive this year as the carrier looks to launch two new flights to destinations in China and Canada during Summer 2013", with flights to Brazil, the USA and possibly South Africa, to follow.

Rabah Jrad
Rabah Jrad
In an interview with Radio Express FM on 15 January 15th, Rabah Jrad denounced the "illegal and unfair competition practices" of Syphax Airlines, claiming they broke an alleged agreement in which the two carriers stated they would not compete on certain routes.

Rabah Jrad questioned how a company as young as Syphax could open a route to Montreal given that months, or even years, are needed in research prior to a launch. Jrad then went on to doubt Syphax's ability to complete such studies in a short period.

Mohammed Frikah
Mohammed Frikah
On 16 January, Syphax's CEO, Mohamed Frikha, responded to Jrad's accusations, disputing his claims of unfair competition by arguing that while unfair competition may overshadow the national airline, it comes more from foreign airlines like Royal Air Maroc (AH) and Qatar Airways (QR) and "certainly not from Syphax or any other private company in Tunisia."

Moreover, Frikha stressed the complementarity between Syphax and Tunisair and said that his company could in no way prejudice Tunisair's interests.

Long a sacred cow enjoying governmental and union backing, Tunisair is facing a tough transition period with heavy staff redundancies looming in addition to a possible Open Skies treaty with the European Union which would pave the way for the entry of European LCCs.