Tunisair (TU, Tunis) is expected to layoff 400 of its full-time staff next year, as the national carrier looks to reduce the financial challenges it faces.

“As part of a structural reform program, 400 employees will be laid off in 2020 in an effort to reduce the company’s high wage mass and ease its financial difficulties,” CEO Elyess Mankabi told Reuters.

The state-owned airline has been suffering losses since 2011 when Tunisia's President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted. Tunisair also faces increased competition, as the country is in the process of ratifying an Open Skies treaty with the European Union.

In the past, the government has failed to trim the 8,000 employees at the airline, in the face of union objections. Mankabi's headcount reduction has been approved by the State.

The cuts are necessary because the airline has been beset with flight delays, declining services, and aircraft groundings due to a lack of spare parts. According to the ch-aviation PRO airlines and Flightradar24 ADS-B data, Tunisair has two of its four A319-100s inactive at this time, as well as three from its 15-strong A320 fleet, and four of its seven B737-600s unavailable.

The airline remains the largest carrier in Tunis, commanding 44% of weekly capacity and 42% of weekly frequencies. With the exception of Transavia France (TO, Paris Orly), Air Arabia (G9, Sharjah) and Air Arabia Maroc (3O, Casablanca Int'l), there is a limited low-cost carrier presence at the capital city airport in the winter.

The airline's subsidiary, Tunisair Express (UG, Tunis), took delivery of its first ATR72-600 following the arrival of TS-LBF (msn 1582) in Tunis on November 19.