Is easyJet Tunisia’s white knight?

By | Category: Travel destinations

Now that easyJet has entered the package holiday market in a big way will it come to Tunisia’s assistance in replacing the hundreds of thousands of passengers that Thomas Cook used to take there each year?

Cart driver in Tunisia waving
Can easJet make the Tunisian tourism industry happy by flying regularly to the country?

At the World Travel Market last month there were conversations between the Tunisian authorities and the airline about operating to Tunisia.

At present there are few links with the North African country. The national airline, Tunisiair, flies out of Heathrow or Gatwick during the week but no other airline links the Tunis with the UK. In the tourist areas there is an airport at Djerba and two that serve the tourist hotspots of Hammamet, Sousse and Monastir. TUI is the only airline from the UK to fly into Enfidha–Hammamet International Airport with charter flights throughout the year from Birmingham, Gatwick and Manchester. It also operates seasonal flights (largely in the summer) from Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster-Sheffield, East Midlands, Glasgow, Luton, Newcastle and Stansted. There is no service from Northern Ireland, a route that previously was flown by Thomas Cook.

There are no UK links with either Monastir of the airport in Djerba.

Until there are more air links, visitors from the UK are left with just Tunisair and the charter flights of TUI and all the limitations that charter airlines have.

If easyJet does offer routes from UK regional airports on a regular basis throughout the year then tourism can return to Tunisia in the significant numbers (hundreds of thousands) that existed prior to 2015.

But why hasn’t the airline already started flights to the country?

The answer is supposedly tied up with the free skies agreement that has been signed between the EU and Tunisia but which hasn’t yet been implemented.  One reason given is that Tunisair isn’t ready to face the competition that the more nimbler low cost airlines can. Having undergone a few years of little or no investment due to the lack of tourism revenue there is much to do to make Tunisair competitive. Until then, easyJet is unlikely to want to make a move as just an airline.

Could easyJet operate as a charter airline to Tunisia?

 But the collapse of Thomas Cook has hit Tunisia badly. It needs another airline to fly passengers into the country to fill the gap.

Could easyJet be the answer? Could it operate as a de facto charter airline now that it is a tour operator as well and thus get around the open skies agreement that no one knows a ratification date?

If it can that will please a lot of Tunisian hoteliers and tourism providers.    

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: , ,