Tunisair wants government backing to lay off 1,200 workers

Tunisair wants government backing to lay off 1,200 workers
Tunisia’s state airline wants to lay off 1,200 workers to ease financial difficulties which have led to flight delays and the grounding of aircraft due to lack of spare parts. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 August 2018

Tunisair wants government backing to lay off 1,200 workers

Tunisair wants government backing to lay off 1,200 workers

TUNIS: Tunisia’s state airline wants to lay off 1,200 workers to ease financial difficulties which have led to flight delays and the grounding of aircraft due to lack of spare parts, its chief executive told Reuters on Friday.
Tunisair, which has a fleet of 30 aircraft, employs 8,000 staff, part of a bloated public service which the government has failed to trim due to resistance from labor unions.
By comparison Morocco’s state-owned Royal Air Maroc, which has more than 50 aircraft, has some 3,300 workers, according to its website.
“The company is suffering from major financial difficulties because of the high number of workers and the wage bill of the company,” Elyess Mankabi, the company’s chief executive, said in an interview.
“We’ve proposed to lay off 1,200 workers and we await the government’s approval for this program, which will help the company ease its financial burden and get out of its crisis,” he said.
“In all parts of the world, each plane is supposed to have about 80 employee but at Tunisair, each plane has 165 workers, which is hitting the company’s balance sheets,” Mankabi said.
The company has been suffering losses since the ousting of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 sent Tunisia into turmoil, deterring tourists and investors.
It faces increased competition as Tunisia has been negotiating an Open Skies agreement with the European Union.
Tunisair has been expanding to Africa to tap new markets in anticipation of growing competition at home.
RESTRUCTURING PLAN
Angry passengers have recently vented frustration on social media about delays, which Mankabi blamed on a shortage of aircraft — the fleet of serviceable planes has shrunk to 24 from 30 as Tunisair lacks funds to carry out maintenance, Mankabi said.
There was no immediate reaction from the government and labor unions which have failed to agree on restructuring of Tunisair or other public sectors which have high numbers of staff.
Some Tunisian lawmakers have demanded a sale of the firm instead.
The Afek Tounes party, which is not part of the ruling coalition, said in a statement the government needed to intervene urgently to rescue Tunisair.
The Open Skies agreement with the European Union will open all airports except Tunisair’s main base in the capital to foreign carriers, but after four years Tunis airport will also be included.
“It will not be easy for the company after Open Skies, (which could come into force this year), But we have a reform program for the company. If implemented, we will be in the right direction,” Mankabi said.
He said the restructuring plan would cost about one billion Tunisian dinars ($363 million).
Mankabi expects the company to lease six aircraft to boost its fleet in 2019 as the airline launches two new routes in Africa by the end of this year, to Sudan and Cameroon, bringing the number of African routes to 10.
($1 = 2.7547 Tunisian dinars)


Abu Dhabi opens up free COVID-19 vaccines to tourists

Abu Dhabi opens up free COVID-19 vaccines to tourists
Updated 18 min 15 sec ago

Abu Dhabi opens up free COVID-19 vaccines to tourists

Abu Dhabi opens up free COVID-19 vaccines to tourists
  • Infections have risen in the UAE in the past month, and Abu Dhabi still has restrictions on entry, including home quarantine and PCR testing at intervals after arrival

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is offering tourists free COVID-19 vaccinations that were previously restricted to UAE citizens and residency visa holders.
There is no indication that the change applies to Dubai, the most populous emirate, or the other five emirates that make up the UAE.
Visitors with visas issued by Abu Dhabi and passport holders eligible for tourist visas when they arrive in the UAE through Abu Dhabi can book free vaccines, according to information provided by the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), which operates the emirate’s public health infrastructure.
Holders of expired residency or entry visas are also eligible for free vaccinations, Abu Dhabi Media Office said on June 11.
Job losses and travel restrictions during the pandemic mean some people’s residency visas have expired or have been canceled when they were made redundant.
UAE Health authorities said this month nearly 85 percent of the eligible population had received at least one vaccine dose, but did not say how many had had two doses.
Infections have risen in the UAE in the past month, and Abu Dhabi still has restrictions on entry, including home quarantine and PCR testing at intervals after arrival. People driving from other emirates are tested to show they are not infected.
Travelers from 27 countries including China, Germany and the United States can enter without quarantine on arrival.
SEHA offers COVID-19 vaccines by China’s state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm and by Pfizer/BioNTech in Abu Dhabi.
Dubai Media Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether eligibility criteria was to change. Dubai Health Authority information says vaccines are given only to citizens and holders of valid Dubai residency visas.


OPEC+ said to discuss gradual oil output rise from August

OPEC+ said to discuss gradual oil output rise from August
Updated 27 min 28 sec ago

OPEC+ said to discuss gradual oil output rise from August

OPEC+ said to discuss gradual oil output rise from August
  • OPEC+ is returning 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd) to the market from May through July as part of a plan to gradually unwind last year’s record oil output curbs

DUBAI: OPEC+ is discussing a further gradual increase in oil output from August as oil prices rise on demand recovery, but no decision had been taken on the exact volume yet, two OPEC+ sources familiar with the talks said on Tuesday.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, is returning 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd) to the market from May through July as part of a plan to gradually unwind last year’s record oil output curbs. OPEC+ meets next on July 1.
“It is highly possible to increase gradually from August,” said one of the sources, adding that no final decision had been made and the exact volumes are yet to be agreed on.
Crude oil prices rose on Tuesday, with Brent hitting $75 per barrel for the first time since April 2019, as investors remained bullish about recovery in oil demand and concerns eased over a quick return of Iranian crude to the market.


Does Iceland tourism rebound provide hope for Dubai?

Does Iceland tourism rebound provide hope for Dubai?
Updated 46 min 38 sec ago

Does Iceland tourism rebound provide hope for Dubai?

Does Iceland tourism rebound provide hope for Dubai?
  • Dubai is traditionally a popular destination for British holidaymakers
  • Britain is working on easing travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people to allow them to take a summer holiday

DUBAI: Iceland’s fourteen-fold increase in tourist arrivals in May compared to a year earlier highlights the extent of pent up demand for travel and could provide lessons for other emerging economies, according to research group Tellimer.

Similar to Dubai around the turn of the year, Iceland is currently demonstrating the pent-up demand for tourism, Tellimer said in a strategy note on Tuesday.
“I can attest to the unpleasant experience of spending 11 nights in a UK government quarantine hotel. I traveled from the UAE, which is a “red list” country despite doing a much better job of managing Covid than many on the UK’s “amber list,” and despite being personally very fortunate, by global standards, to have two doses of the Pfizer vaccine by virtue of being a Dubai resident,” said report author Hasnain Mailk. “If I had more time the route I might have taken would have been to spend ten days in Iceland, which is on the UK’s ‘green list.’”
Proof of vaccine means tourists can enter Iceland, take a free PCR test on arrival, and start their holiday with minimum fuss.
“Iceland, like other tourism destinations, is doing whatever it takes to re-open, but, of course, the resumption of tourism also requires a cooperative, competent, and unbiased policy from the country of a visitor’s origin or ultimate destination,” said Malik. “In the last two months, Iceland is providing an example of how vast the pent-up demand is for international tourism. It follows a similar experience in Dubai around the turn of the year. It remains to be seen whether there is a similar spike in infections as seen in Dubai (which subsequently moderated).”
Dubai, which has been urging UK authorities to ease travel restrictions to the emirate, is traditionally a popular destination for British holidaymakers.
Britain is working on easing travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people to allow them to take a summer holiday, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday. However the plans are not yet finalized.


Dubai’s Tabby gets $50m in debt financing

Dubai’s Tabby gets $50m in debt financing
Updated 50 min 32 sec ago

Dubai’s Tabby gets $50m in debt financing

Dubai’s Tabby gets $50m in debt financing
  • The investment came from US-based Partners for Growth (PFG)
  • It will be used to expand Tabby’s lending capacity

DUBAI: Tabby, a Dubai-based buy now, pay later service, has raised $50 million in debt financing.
The investment came from US-based Partners for Growth (PFG), and will be used to expand Tabby’s lending capacity, it said in a statement.
Transaction volumes and merchant numbers of the platform have significantly increased since it was founded in 2019, CEO Hosam Arab said.
“It was essential for us to partner with an organization that would support our current and long-term growth,” he added, referring to the PFG investment.
The global lending firm has particularly focused on emerging growth companies, providing debt facilities to up and coming startups such as Tabby.
“Tabby is one of the fastest growing companies in the MENA region and they have an attractive market opportunity ahead,” Max Penel, PFG’s investment director, said.
 “We are excited to support the tabby team and provide financing that can enable tabby to scale the platform, harnessing the continuous growth of the buy now pay later sector both regionally and globally,” he added.


Egypt wants to export surplus gas to Europe through Greece

Egypt wants to export surplus gas to Europe through Greece
Updated 22 June 2021

Egypt wants to export surplus gas to Europe through Greece

Egypt wants to export surplus gas to Europe through Greece
  • It is part of a wider push to boost cooperation across energy and electrical grid interconnection across the island of Crete

RIYADH: Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said he wanted to work with the Greek government to export surplus natural gas to Europe.
It is part of a wider push to boost cooperation across energy and electrical grid interconnection across the island of Crete, which lies midway between the North African country and mainland Greece.
He made the disclosure during talks in Cairo on Monday between Egypt and Greece, co-chaired by Madbouly and his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Al Arabiya reported.
A number of recent offshore gas finds in the Eastern Mediterranean are rapidly redrawing Europe's energy landscape and shifting the balance of power as more countries move towards self-sufficiency in gas.
At the same time some countries in the region are also exploring the potential to link their power grids to allow the movement of electricity across borders.
It could potentially lead to Gulf Arab states exporting power north to Europe during the winter months when demand is high for heating and for European countries to share their excess power in the summer months, when demand rises in the Gulf, driven by rising air conditioning consumption.