Saturday, July 4, 2020

AIR BOTSWANA SCHEDULE FIASCO KILLING TRAVEL IN AND OUT OF BOTSWANA

For months now, too many people have been inconvenienced by Air Botswana’s inability to be on time and on schedule.

There is no doubt that the airline is in distress.

Just why the management and the board are not calling May Day remains a mystery.

It is a fiasco that has been allowed to get out of control.

At first the instinct for many was not to complain but quietly switch to competition and allow life to move on.

That competition was South African Express.

Now SA Express too has caught the fever and is consistently unable to be on time.

It is not clear if Air Botswana is still running scheduled flights, or the airline has opted to fly as and when they are able to – for any reason.

The net effect of it all is lost time, delays, accumulated frustrations on the part of customers and lost business.

Overall what Air Botswana is doing is unsustainable.

It undermines Botswana’s tourism potential while totally killing business confidence in the country and among foreign investors.

Air Botswana was among other things created to facilitate tourism.

That too was by far the most compelling reason flaunted by those who felt there was still a need for Government ownership of the airline.

Now the carrier is doing the exact opposite.

It might be time Government re-evaluated its continued investment in the airline.

It is not clear if anybody in power is really aware of what is happening at Air Botswana.

Flying out of the country to make international connections has become a risky business for international travelers.

This is because Air Botswana is never on time.

Too often people are left stranded or forced to incur additional hotel costs or made to pay additional fees to this party flights.

The situation is made all the worse by the fact that Air Botswana does not have the capacity to communicate with its customers sufficiently and on time.

The airline has clearly not invested on relevant communications technology.

Or if it has then it does not have the requisite human resource skills needed to help the airline during these times of a crisis.

In a few months, it will be a peak season where many people will want to get into Botswana and or leave the country.

Under the current situation, Air Botswana is hopelessly ill-prepared.

The shareholder needs to find ways to make the carrier more dynamic.

The current one lacks the much-needed vibrancy that can inspire confidence.

Air Botswana should help spur an economic boom through tourism.

But before doing so Air Botswana has to be saved.

It is difficult to save Air Botswana without knowing the airline’s problems.

It was an old fleet that was no longer competitive.

When government purchased aircraft, the new problem became pilots; they needed to be trained.

Months later Air Botswana’s fleet remains on the grounded.

Today there are more Sa Express flights into Botswana than Air Botswana’s.

This is a very serious indictment.

Maun is Botswana’s busiest airport.

Yet Air Botswana flies into Maun only once a day. In fact there are other days where there are no Air Botswana flights into Maun.

To travel from Maun to Gaborone people have had first to travel to Johannesburg.

This is unheard of in today’s era of time consciousness.

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Sunday Standard June 28 – 4 July

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of June 28 - 4 July, 2020.