Tunisair’s New CEO Has Already Been Removed After A Labor Dispute

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Only weeks into her appointment as CEO of Tunisair, Olfa Al-Hamdi has been removed from her post. The 30-year-old executive is accused of being uncooperative with government, and of posting confidential documents to social media.

Tunisair has lost its new CEO just weeks into her appointment. Photo: Getty Images

Tunisair CEO fired after seven weeks

Following several days of industrial action, newly appointed CEO of Tunisair Olfa Al-Hamdi has been removed from her post. Appointed as a replacement for Elyes Mnaki, Hamdi had only been appointed as Chair and CEO of Tunisair in early January. She was allegedly removed on Tuesday this week.

Tunisia’s Minister of Transport and Logistics, Moez Chakchouk, explained during a press conference the reasons for her untimely dismissal. He said, as reported by Jeune Afrique,

“She made a lot of mistakes. She did not respect the right of reservation and did not submit to the supervisory authorities.”

Chakchouk went on to accuse Hamdi of leaking private documents on social media, as well as refusing to participate in requested meetings. He said that this led to the eventual dismissal of the CEO, which comes just seven weeks after her confirmed appointment.

Hamdi was recruited in January with hops that she would lead the airline out of financial turmoil. The young 30-year-old executive came to the airline as a self-declared American-trained engineer, inventor and Silicon Valley entrepreneur,” and was previously the founder and chief executive of Concord Project Technologies.

Rumors of her dismissal had begun to circulate on Monday, but the Ministry initially denied these claims. However, a subsequent press release issued yesterday confirmed that she had, indeed, been relieved of her duty.

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Problems at Tunisair

The state-owned flag carrier of Tunisia has been in some financial difficulty even before the challenges of the pandemic began. Cost challenges relating to a bloated workforce and inefficient operations has left the carrier struggling to make ends meet.

On Friday last week, hundreds of employees of Tunisair took strike action at all the nation’s airports in protest at the declining financial position of the company. TAV Tunisie, a large company that operates airports in Tunisia, said last Wednesday that it had frozen the bank accounts that pay the wages of Tunisair employees. 7,800 workers are paid via the facility.

Tunisair protests
Protests had erupted after accounts to pay workers were frozen. Photo: Getty Images

Noureddine Taboubi, Secretary-General of the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) demanded industrial action following this move, organizing a demonstration at the head office of Tunisair and other public establishments. Speaking to Business News about Hamdi, said,

“The CEO of Tunisair, although I have nothing against her, represents the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the State by meeting with the Ambassador of Turkey and the UK (…) Tunisair’s debts are piling up and the employees have not received their salaries for the past two months.”

Responding on Facebook, on her page which is littered with documents and letters stamped on Tunisair paper, Hamdi hit back at the UGTT boss, saying that the ‘whole government was dismissed’ by his actions.

The disruption of losing its CEO will do no favors for beleaguered Tunisair. At the start of last year, before COVID, the airline had 19 in service aircraft, including 14 A320 family jets, two A330s and three 737s. In January 2021, just 11 remained in service. Checking Planespotters.net today, just seven are noted as being in operation.


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