LONDON -(Dow Jones)- European tour operators have this weekend have been flying back stranded holiday-makers caught up in the civil unrest in Tunisia that forced former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Alve to flee the country on Friday.
Several European governments have issued travel warnings and airlines are warning already-booked passengers to check flight schedules as they cancel flights.
Many northern Europeans have recently favored package tours to Tunisia as a low-budget alternative to beach holidays in other Mediterranean resorts. The tourist trade has been a boon for the Tunisian economy, which could suffer if political turmoil persists.
U.K. tour operator Thomas Cook Group PLC (TCG.LN) said it planned another flight to Tunisia on Sunday to bring back the last few holidaymakers who now want to return to the U.K. Friday, about 1,500 people of the 1,800 who had travelled to Tunisia through Thomas Cook U.K. returned home on special flights.
German travel operators Thomas Cook AG, an arm of the U.K. group, and TUI Deutschland GmbH begain evacuating German and Austrian tourists from the country on Friday after Germany's Foreign Ministry advised against non-essential trips to the country.
Thomas Cook AG said Saturday it had organized eight flights leaving Monastir and Djerba for Germany. That follows its evacuation Friday, when the company flew about 230 tourists to Germany and Austria on four flights from Tunisia. The tourists are guests of Neckermann, Thomas Cook, Bucher Last Minute and Air Marin, all part of the Thomas Cook Group.
Thomas Cook also said it has cancelled all trips to Tunisia until at least Jan. 21.
TUI Deutschland, the tour operator unit of TUI AG (TUI.XE), Saturday said it was evacuating all of its approximately 1,000 guests from Tunisia, and has cancelled all trips to the country until Jan. 24.
"We don't expect the situation to stabilize anytime soon," TUI Deutschland said.
Airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA.XE, DLAKY) cancelled all its Tunisian flights Saturday, a spokesman said.
France's Club Mediterranee SA (CU.FR) on Saturday began evacuating around 130 vacationers from the group's holiday village in Djerba, the only resort in the country open during the winter season.
The U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has also issued a travel warning. British Airways PLC (BAY.LN) said it was reviewing its services to the country and passengers should check the status of their flights before leaving for the airport.
(Sarah Sloat in Frankfurt, Ruth Bender in Paris and Kaveri Niththyananthan in London contributed to this report.)
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