Tunisair (TU, Tunis) has received the greenlight from government to embark on a downsizing initiative aimed at cutting the bloated carrier's hefty wage bills. Speaking in the Tunisian capital, Tunisair CEO, Rabah Jrad, said the planned 1'700 layoffs, whilst socially painful, are critical to the long term survival of the airline. In addition, he said that, while a series of programmes intended to financially rehabilitate Tunisair were beginning to bear fruits with preliminary passenger figures for Q1 2013 showing a rise of 4.4% on 2012, the Tunisian national carrier would, this year, remain dependent on the Fiscus to the tune of EUR 20million. Following the Arab Spring uprising in 2011 and its knock on effects in the tourism industry, Tunisair's workforce ballooned to over 8'000 employees when Tunisair Catering, Tunisair Handling, Tunisair Express (UG, Tunis) and Tunisair Technics were absorbed into Tunisair Holdings. The airline's all powerful trade unions have yet to comment on the impending redundancy drive.