Air Botswana (AB) this week revealed that it will be introducing additional routes after the purchase of two additional aircrafts. The new routes will be introduced on March 29 and May 31.
This comes at a time when the competition is getting hostile after South African Airways (SAA) announced its entry into the Johannesburg-Gaborone route. The airliner and the introduction of new aircraft are expected to make Air Botswana more competitive.
Air Botswana last year announced the purchase of two ATR 72-500 aircrafts with a seating capacity of 72. However, the airliner noted that the planes will only be allowed to carry 68 passengers so as to maximise comfort.
Purchasing ATR aircrafts was chosen over jet planes as they are more reliable and economic. These aircraft are able to travel direct routes to their destination without refueling.
Phillip Nkokou, the Commercial Manager for Air Botswana, told Sunday Standard that “ATR aircraft are suitable for our operations, short runways and high temperatures.”
Nkokou revealed that some jet planes are not able to operate out of some of our airports with a full load.
The new routes will be return trips from Maun to Kasane, which is scheduled to start from the 29th of March with one of the new aircraft and on the 31st of May the second aircraft will come into play.
This will take on the new routes from Kasane to Johannesburg return and Francistown to Johannesburg return.
The new routes are inline with Air Botswana ‘s mandate to provide air transport for traveling around Botswana and outside.
Though there is competition on the route from Johannesburg to Gaborone, Air Botswana has introduced new competitive fees so as to stay ahead of the competition. But they did not say what would be the seat price for any route.
However, SAA, which will be using bigger planes, has indicated that its return ticket for GaboroneÔÇôJohannesburg would be pegged at P475.00, excluding tax, while Air Botswana’s price for the same seat as of December last year was P 1,858, excluding tax. Observers indicated this week that if Air Botswana does not match SAA it will be headed for demise.
The new routes are motivated by the demand of the market but also aim at getting ready for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa .
Air Botswana has no direct long-haul planes but stated that when circumstances permit, they will add them to their fleet.
The winter time table, which is in place today, is coming to an end and when they introduce the summer time table at the end of March, the new changes will take effect.
Air Botswana will keep all its old routes in place and no changes will be made to any of them. All the new aircrafts will be used on the new routes only so as to tackle competition head on.