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In an aviation market as heavily regulated as Tunisia, Mohamed Frikha, the founder and chairman of Syphax Airlines, fully anticipated that his start-up would encounter push-back from existing players when it launched in April 2012.
Sure enough, on the very first day of operations at Tunis Carthage International Airport, Syphax’s passengers were turned away by staff from the ground-handling division of flag-carrier Tunisair.
The debacle marked a rocky start for the fledgling privately-owned airline, and it was not to be an isolated occurrence. Over the months that followed Tunisair’s former chief executive, Rabah Jrad, repeatedly accused his competitor of “illegal and unfair” business practices. Though undoubtedly a headache, this opposition ultimately failed to deter Frikha from injecting competition into the sector...