Tunisia targeting new services amid bounce-back hopes

Tunisia’s airports are hoping to develop new air services in anticipation of a return in the market next year.

Tunisia’s airports are hoping to develop new air services in anticipation of a return in the market next year, Khaled Chely has said.

Chely, the president director general of Office de l’Aviation Civil et Des Aeroports, which manages the country’s airports, spoke earlier this month before an audience at the 59th ACI Africa conference in Lagos, Nigeria.

“We’re hoping for a bounce-back next year – and we aim to attract the maximum number of airlines possible,” he said.

However, Chely also noted that Tunisia is facing the ‘airports dilemma’ of growing networks while operating under some capacity constraints at its largest facility.

Chely spoke at a high-level panel on airport business transformation alongside fellow airport bosses including Bongani Maseko, chief executive of ACSA in South Africa, and Xavier Mary, CEO of LAS in Senegal.

Tourism accounts for about 8 percent of Tunisia’s gross domestic product, provides thousands of jobs and is a key source of foreign currency. But the sector was hit hard in the wake of a gun attack on a beach in Sousse that killed 39 tourists in 2015.

However, visitor numbers to the North African country grew 23 percent to seven million in 2017 and they are expected to rise to eight million in 2018. The number of European tourists rose by 19.5 percent to 1.7 million in 2017, boosted by arrivals from France and Germany. 

Airlines that have returned to Tunisian skies so far this year include Condor and Thomas Cook. 

Total international departure seats from Tunisia (2013-17):

According to figures from OAG, the number of international departure seats grew to 4.7 million in 2017, up from 4.26 million in 2016. This followed a drop from 5.5 million in 2013, 5.3 million in 2014 and 4.5 million in 2015. 

Top five destinations from Tunisia by departure seats (2013 vs 2017):