November 26, 2019 / 6:03 PM / 18 days ago

Tunisia's state airline to axe 400 jobs in cost-cutting plan

FILE PHOTO: A Tunisair sign is seen at their headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia, March 2, 2018. Picture taken March 2, 2018. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi/File Photo

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisair plans to lay off 400 of its full-time employees in 2020 as part of plans to ease financial difficulties at the state-owned Tunisian airline, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

The national carrier’s squeezed finances have led to flight delays, declining services and the grounding of aircraft because of a lack of spare parts.

Tunisair, which has a fleet of 27 aircraft, has a bloated workforce of 8,000, which the government has failed to trim in the face of resistance from labor unions.

“As part of a structural reform program, 400 employees will be laid off in 2020 in an effort to reduce the company’s high wage mass and ease its financial difficulties,” said CEO Elyess Mankabi.

This plan was approved by the government, he added.

The company has been suffering losses since the ousting of Tunisia’s autocrat President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 and faces increased competition as the country negotiates an Open Skies agreement with the European Union.

As part of broader reforms, Tunisia is seeking to curb losses incurred by large state-owned companies, which amounted to about $2 billion last year.

Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by David Goodman

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