“The natural date for the opening of the skies will be 2020”. This was announced by Transport Minister Mahmoud Ben Romdhane during his participation on Thursday, October 8, at a breakfast organized around the theme of “aviation”.
The minister stated, in this context, that this move has to be studied; otherwise it will be destructive…
“The transportation department has been resolutely tackling this issue… We are determined to meet this challenge. But the question remains dependent on the tourism sector, hit hard following the recent terrorist blows that struck Tunisia. Therefore, it is up to transport operators, in collaboration with the tourism industry, to boost this activity so as to increase our air capacity in order to fill our hotels, “said Ben Romdhane, noting that” if Tunisia is not able today to its skies and attract as many tourists as its competitors, it is largely because of the security.”
The attempted assassination of member of the House of People’s Representatives (ARP) Ridha Charfeddine by individuals on a white car on Thursday morning already confirmed the statement of the minister who largely spoke of the security issue without forgetting the Libyan crisis that has cost Tunisair about 24% of its turnover.
The sector’s stakeholders are convinced of that, the minister said, adding: “but the authorities do not remain to remain inactive; they will start negotiations with the profession including hoteliers before resuming negotiations with the European side.”
According to him, discussions with professionals will start next week in order to reach consensus on this issue that continues to cause controversy.
For this purpose, the draft five-year plan (2016-2020) for the development of the air transport sector provides for the improvement of the development framework starting from strengthening the current administration, reorganizing the Civil Aviation Service, harmonizing the regulatory text with international and European standards and gradually opening the skies through the recovery and improvement of the competitiveness of airlines and the development of an airport strategy.
All airports are open except Tunis-Carthage
This view is shared by head of civil aviation Habib Mekki who said “it is intended to implement the Open Skies by the end of the five year plan.” For, the date could be announced only through mutual agreement with the European side. “A date cannot be set unilaterally and it’s always negotiated, including the date of its entry into force under this agreement,” he insisted in a statement to African manager, stating “we plan to restart negotiations with the European side in the coming weeks.”
Mekki was optimistic about achieving this goal, noting that the airports will be opened immediately with the exception of Tunis Carthage airport. The latter, which has exceeded its estimated capacity of 5 million passengers a year, requires, in fact, an upgrading of the infrastructure. In this regard, a program was developed to double the capacity of the Tunis-Carthage airport. This work will be conducted, according to the Minister, on two stages with an increase of 50% in each.
Will Tunisair be affected by the opening of the skies? Definitely yes, responded Habib Mekki, as it is operating in a non-competitive environment and that is not completely open.
“In my view, the forthcoming opening of Low Cost especially of Tunis-Carthage will certainly have an impact on our national flag carrier, which is why new studies will be initiated in the next period to evaluate this action and meet, on the other hand, this considerable challenge,” Mekki added in a statement to African Manager.