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09 Aug 2017

BY Tom Parry


Tunisair eyes charter flights for next year

Tunisair’s UK boss has confirmed the carrier is working on launching charter flights from a number of British airports to destinations throughout Tunisia in time for next summer.

Tunisair jet

The carrier also told TTG it would be open to working with Thomas Cook and Tui "if they need aircraft to Tunisia"

The UK Foreign Office amended its travel advice for Tunisia on July 26, no longer advising against travel to most of the country. It enables holidaymakers to return to areas including tourist resorts such as Sousse, where 30 British holidaymakers were killed in a terror attack in 2015.

Tunisair is currently the only carrier flying direct from the UK to the North African country.

Zakaria Fathallah, director for UK & Ireland, told TTG there was “a big probability” more flights could begin “from April or May 2018 from Gatwick and other regional UK airports to any Tunisia airport”.

Fathallah named Enfidha and Monastir – both near to Sousse – as possible destinations for the charter flights, adding that the services could run once or twice per week, and that the Tunisian flag-carrier is also considering using larger aircraft on the UK-Tunisia routes it currently operates.

He added that Tunisair would be open to working with Thomas Cook and Tui “if they need aircraft to Tunisia”, and is planning to run tour operator roadshows in the new year.

However, Fathallah maintained that there would be no decision on a potential summer 2018 charter programme before trade show WTM London in November: “There are a lot of conditions to consider and it is too early to confirm anything yet.”

The news could offer a lifeline to UK operators to Tunisia hamstrung by limited airlift to the country.

Tunisia specialists Just Sunshine and Tunisia First both told TTG they were due to meet with Tunisair this week to discuss capacity from the UK.

Peter Kirk, managing director of Tunisia First, said regular clients had returned to Tunisia almost as soon as the advice was changed. But he added that he did not expect flight options from larger operators to increase before next summer “unless they have spare aircraft”.

Can Deniz, managing director of Just Sunshine, said agents had been asking the company when it was going to launch its programme.

He also warned that although Tunisian hoteliers were “eager” to welcome British tourists he had found some “very reluctant” to offer UK holidaymakers all-inclusive rates due to a recent influx in fake holiday sickness claims.

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