Tunis Air suspends flights after clashes between crew and airport technicians

Karem Yehia, Tunis, Thursday 9 Mar 2017

File Photo: TunisAir fleet (Photo: AFP)

Tunisia's national carrier Tunis Air suspended flights indefinitely on Thursday after "physical clashes" erupted between the airline's pilot corps and technicians at Tunis-Carthage International Airport.

According to a statement by the airliner, the altercations took place Thursday morning. The airliner referred to the suspension as a step to "preserve the safety of the passengers and its fleet."

Local news channels reported that the conflict took place between the crew of a Tunis Air plane bound for Paris and airport technicians, referring to the quarrel as one that involved the use of "violence."

Shortly after the incident, Tunisian transport minister Anis Ghedira made statements to the press in which he warned against actions that aim to defame the image of the country, saying there could be "no tolerance for chaos."

Tunisia's tourism sector has taken a hard hit since June 2015 after several devastating terrorist attacks, and worries that incidents such as these could drive more tourists away.

The country has a state of emergency in force. 

Thirty-eight people, mostly British holidaymakers, were killed when an Islamic State militant opened fire on them during their stay in the popular resort of Port El Kantaoui, just north of Sousse.

The 2015 attack resulted in several European countries banning flights to the country, including the Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark.

Germany, France and Spain have lifted their respective restrictions, while the UK's Foreign Commonwealth Office advises against all but essential travel to the country.

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