Tunisia's Ministry of Transport and Logistics has appointed Olfa Hamdi as the new chief executive of national carrier Tunisair, according to the country's news agency.
Ms Hamdi will replace the airline's former boss Elyes Mnakbi, who departed the state-owned airline in July 2020.
"Hamdi will be entrusted with devising a new strategic action plan to save Tunisair and ensure its development to become competitive on the world aviation markets, notably in Europe and Africa," according to the TAP News Agency statement.
The move marks a rare appointment of a female airline leader in an industry whose top echelon is largely male-dominated. The International Air Transport Association (Iata) estimates that women represent about three per cent of airline chief executives, highlighting a lack of gender diversity in the industry.
Ms Hamdi is an American-trained engineer, inventor and Silicon Valley entrepreneur, according to her LinkedIn page.
She holds a Master of Science degree in Capital Project Management from The University of Texas at Austin, a Master of Science qualification in Engineering from Ecole Centrale de Lille, and a graduate degree in Alternative Dispute Resolution for construction disputes from Texas School of Law. She is also a fellow of the Construction Law section of the State Bar of Texas.
State-owned Tunisair has been losing money every year since Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, prompting parliament to call for restructuring of the airline.
The carrier's revenue fell by about 67 per cent or $330 million year-on-year in the first nine months of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported, citing official figures.