Tunisair CEO Dismissed As Labor Dispute Roils Ailing Carrier

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The chief executive officer of Tunisair was removed from her post less than two months after she was appointed following a dispute with the labor union and disagreements over how to rescue the loss-making national carrier.

The Transport Ministry announced Olfa Hamdi’s dismissal in a short statement on its Facebook page Monday, accusing her of publishing a confidential letter from the head of the labor union on social media and failing to attend a meeting earlier in the day.

In comments to Bloomberg, Hamdi, who was appointed in January, said she had been prevented from holding a press conference on her plan to keep the Tunisian airline listed on the stock exchange and publish financial results for the past three years.

The Transport Ministry didn’t immediately answer calls seeking comment on Hamdi’s claims.

Hundreds of Tunisair employees held a protest Friday to demand that the government save their employer from closure. Subsidized by the state for decades, the airline’s financial situation worsened after a Turkish airport operator froze the company’s accounts for failing to pay millions of dollars.

Like much of Tunisia’s public sector, Tunisair suffers from a bloated payroll. It has 6,482 employees, according to Hamdi, but only owns 28 planes, 21 of which are grounded because it can’t afford to maintain them.

In its letter, the labor union had demanded advance payment from Tunisair. Hamdi had rejected the request.

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