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Tunisia: debts of TAV and laxity of OACA and government with Turkish TAV

A working session was held last December 25, under the chairmanship of Minister of Transport and Logistics Moez Chakchouk.

On the agenda was the financial situation of TAV, the Turkish company that operates Enfidha and Monastir airports. The OACA (Office of Civil Aviation and Airports), and Tunisair were on board.

The first information given in the ministry’s statement about the meeting was “the inability of TAV to pay part of the salaries of its employees at the airport of Monastir”.

What is strange is that it is the Ministry and therefore the Tunisian State that gave the concessions to the Turkish company to operate the two airports of Enfidha and Monastir.

The Turkish operator explains this inability by the repercussions of the Coronavirus pandemic as if the Tunisian State was responsible and even worried that investors, Turkish and others have not received any dividends for 12 years as indicated in 2019 a press release from TAV.

TAV refuses to pay premiums of OACA staff in Monastir

What few Tunisians know is that the Tunisian State, through its company which is the OACA, had granted TAV the privilege of making available to it OACA employees to work at Monastir airport.

Even less known, despite a long sit-in outside the headquarters of their employer, is the fact that the direct employer of OACA staff which is the Turkish TAV no longer pays the employees made available to it at the airport of Monastir.

 The information was given to us by the SG of the union of that airport, who is not sure that this is the case of all the employees of TAV.

He said what is important for him is that “the OACA does not follow up the application of the specifications of the concession”, Faouzi Borjini told Africanmanager, speaking about the payment of the OACA staff put at the disposal of TAV under contract.

The SG of the union, who also refers to the sharp deterioration in the quality of services at the Monastir airport run by the Turkish operator, said “TAV has paid its employees, neither the performance bonus, nor the 13th month, thus denying their financial dues amounting to the equivalent of more than 1.8 MD” . This sum makes up the components of their salaries whose “OACA is the guarantor of payment, like the rest of its staff in the other airports.

However, the OACA has to send a formal notice to TAV, and if the latter does not pay the money of the employees, it is contractually up to it to do so, since TAV staff are indeed those of OACA and even if they were put at the disposal of TAV, unwillingly,” Borjini added.

He cited, in this respect, Article 3 of the specifications, which even doubts that the Ministry of State Property has ever sent any formal notice to the Turkish operator to demand the annual fees for the concession of the two airports. This would make TAV a free operator.

AfricanManager has tried to contact TAV’s communication services by phone and SMS to explain these shortcomings, in vain! TAV prefers to keep silent.

At the OACA which we were able to contact, they assure in substance that “the issue involves the staff of Monastir airport whose concession also covers the staff, according to the agreement signed since 2008 with TAV. Under the agreement, TAV had contractually committed to pay this staff with the same benefits and statutes as those of the OACA”.

The OACA management told us “we are not going to pay anything, because it is up to TAV to do so, as stipulated in the contracts and the terms of the tender for the concession”.

TAV blackmailing OACA with Tunisair’s debt, says union

All this could be normal for a company impacted by COVID-19 and experiencing financial difficulties. “However, what we understood was that the Ministry of Transport promised TAV – which made the request under the pretext of force majeure – to pay part of the money Tunisair owes to TAV, and linked the payment of the OACA staff’s salaries to the payment of Tunisair’s debt.

In doing this, it is blackmailing Tunisair by applying pressure via the OACA.

Tunisair’s debt is said to be 15 million dinars in unpaid landing fees at Enfidha and Monastir airports and in rent for the offices made available to it at these airports managed by TAV.

That debt could be discussed by the Ministry of Transport and the Tunisian State in general within the framework of TAV’s unpaid concession.

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