Tunis is well-located to be a transfer hub between Europe and Africa and the Middle East and North America. But aggressive pricing is essential for its success and it remains unclear whether Tunisair has the financial strength and commercial self-confidence to adopt such a pragmatic strategy.
Despite its long-haul ambitions, the focus of the airline will remain on its shorter routes to Europe, catering for Tunisians and foreign tourists. So far, its market position and revenue flows have been relatively protected. But the deepening economic integration between Tunisia and the EU is likely to lead to the liberalisation of the air travel market.
An Open Skies Agreement was due to be introduced from November 2011, which would allow European airlines free access to Tunisian airspace. It is now not expected to be implemented any time soon due to delays caused by the political unrest in the country.
Tunisair has begun to explore flexible pricing, online booking and other commercial tools. Moreover, it will have to develop these further to compete with Europe’s low-cost carriers. The airline will also need to address its poor punctuality record, which is a major complaint of customers.