With the reconstruction of the Sir Seretse Khama Airport in Gaborone, it is only fitting that there be an equally fitting local airline to be at par with the world class new improved airport.
Air Botswana has had its fair share of bad publicity but has since changed management.
When taking the reins in June this year, the Air Botswana General Manager, Sakhile Reiling, found the corporation in a bit of a mess after a failed attempt to privatise. With years of experience and a positive attitude, she has embarked on an extreme make over campaign to turn Air Botswana around and transform it into a global competitor in the market and the airline to reckon with.
“A strategic plan to improve Air Botswana’s efficiency, effectiveness and attractiveness was made at an organizational review two weeks ago and will be implemented continuously until 2014,” said Reiling. She asserted to the fact that the privatization attempts impacted negatively on the staff’s performance and that during that period new projects were halted and the organization suffered as a whole and now they are currently addressing all the issues.
When joining Air Botswana, Reiling claims that out of the 6 Aircraft, only 2 were “roadworthy”, resulting in money being spent to lease out aircraft which was extremely costly to the organization. This, however, has since changed and the major drawback is the escalating fuel prices and operational costs, which affect the transportation industry at large since the cost recovery measures ultimately drive the tickets up.
Air Botswana is of the notion that competitors are vital for the growth of the organization; they are aware of the stiff competition from other bigger airlines which are not only a threat in attracting more customers but also attracting their staff.
Reiling, however, indicated that at Air Botswana, they try their best to offer attractive packages to their pilots and create the best possible working conditions.
Public perception is that Air Botswana provides sub standard service, while Ms Reiling is aware, she pointed out that their on-time performance has improved from 60 to 79 percent and they are working on the on service performance.
She added that sometimes due to extremely high temperatures, the takeoff weight in an aircraft has to be reduced thus it often results in either the passengers or the luggage being left for a later flight.
In a male dominated industry, Reiling is making headway and is proud to be in the position she is as an aviation expert.