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Recent Challenges Facing North African Carriers in Airfinance Journal, March 2017

Brian Pearce, Chief Economist of the International Air Transport Association, told delegates at the fourth IATA Airline Cost Conference in Geneva last year that carriers had “never had it so good” and, after decades of poor performance, airlines were finally making money.

The representatives from North African airlines, who were in the audience during the speech, looked at each other in a way that said Pearce’s statements were far from realities. Over the past few years, the region has witnessed geopolitical instability with the Arab Spring and several terrorist attacks, often in the regions where tourism plays a vital role in the local economy.

“ As someone who has been to all of these countries, you can see the diminished air traffic”, says one industry source. One striking example of an airline that has been negatively affected is Tunisian flag carrier Tunisair. Its traffic suffered after a terrorist mass-shooting against foreign tourists on a resort in Sousse that killed 38 people One leasing executive, who works with North African carriers, tells Airfinance Journal “Tunisair has suffered a lot because they had less tourists come into the country since the attacks. The same thing happened in Turkey with Turkish Airlines”.

As well as seeing a drop in tourist numbers, North African regions that have been affected by terrorism and political instability have experienced some hesitation from Lessors, says the source. “I think they are more reticent right now. Overall, it is not stable, but people are still doing deals. It is just that when the airlines in those regions go to the market themselves, they often find it harder to get financing”.

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