Tunisair says passenger traffic down 20 per cent in first quarter

Reuters , Monday 6 Jun 2011

Shortfall is driven by fall in European tourists but bookings should recover in September, says Tunisia's national carrier

Tunisair in flight
Tunisair feels the heat as European passenger numbers plummet

Tunisia's national carrier Tunisair has seen a 20 per cent plunge in passenger traffic between the middle of January and the end of April from a year earlier due the turmoil in the Middle East, an executive said.

Most of the fall has been in traffic from Europe, from where the country receives 80 per cent of its tourists, Habib Ben Slama, vice president for commercial affairs at Tunisia's national carrier, told Reuters.

"For Tunisia, the traffic is minus 20 per cent," he said, but expressed confidence that bookings should recover in September.

Tunisia has been struggling to restore political and economic stability since longtime authoritarian leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in January in an uprising.

The turmoil hit the tourism sector, one of Tunisia's biggest sources of revenue, and also disrupted other service industries and manufacturing.

Tunisia's Trade and Tourism Minister Mehdi Houas said last month in Brussels the North African country needed 7-10 billion euros in aid to secure its economy in the short term, adding that it aimed to triple its GDP in five years.

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