Allegations of luggage theft have intensified concerns over the state of Tunisia’s largest airport.
Fifteen employees at the Tunis-Carthage Airport have been arrested in recent weeks over their involvement in suspected luggage theft, according to Minister of Transport Anis Ghedira. The accusations come amid a flurry of criticism over the condition of the country’s oldest airport, which many have described as unsanitary, poorly maintained and lacking in modern-day resources.
While the Minister said that those arrested will be prosecuted, and that airport policy will be instructed to crack down on potential luggage thefts, he acknowledged that Tunis-Carthage needed drastic changes to keep pace with modern air-travel.
“The airport of Tunis-Carthage no longer honors Tunisia,” Ghedira said during a meeting in parliament on Wednesday.
Going forward, Ghedira outlined three proposals that would improve the quality of Tunisian air transport: expanding Tunis-Carthage so that it accommodates more than 9 million travelers per year (it currently hosts 5 million), opening a new airport to work in conjunction with Tunis-Carthage, or shutting down Tunis-Carthage completely while opening a larger, more modern airport to replace it.
Officials will decide on a path forward following the release of a study in January 2017, the Minister said.
Air-travel has been down in Tunisia due to a decline in tourism following two major terror attacks in 2015. As of November 2015, Tunisia experienced a 50% drop in European tourists, with many Italian, French and Spanish travelers choosing to stay away. While the decline has been somewhat mitigated by an increase in Algerian tourists, revenue figures are still struggling to recover.
“The tourism sector is undergoing a crisis, especially with the terrorist attacks and the continuous raids on terrorist cells, which affected all coastal tourism,” said General Secretary of the UGTT Sami Tahri in November to Tunisia Live.
“This definitely affects the Tunisian economy negatively, as both unemployment and social tensions have increased.”
The Ministry of Transportation will be allotted a budget of 651 TND out of a requested 959 TND for 2017 due to budget constraints, TAP reports.
Rahma is preparing a master thesis in Anglo-American studies. She is interested in politics and foreign affairs. Since the outbreak of the Tunisian revolution, she volunteered for several Tunisian associations such as ATIDE, Sawty and others. She writes articles about post-revolution Tunisia.