Thursday, April 18, 2024

Air Botswana to carry “For sale” tag again 

The government has resuscitated its plans to privatise the national airline, Air Botswana. 

Although details are still sketchy, the responsible for Minister of Transport Eric Molale told Parliament this past week that a budget has been put in place through the Transitional National Development Plan (TNDP) for the financial years 2023/24 and 2024/25 which will ultimately see the sale of the ailing national airline. 

While the sale will not be immediate, Molale said in the meantime the government has directed that a strategic partner be sought for Air Botswana, to make it more commercially viable. 

Currently Air Botswana is reported to be implementing a recovery plan which is aimed at operational excellence, recovery, and growth as well as financial sustainability. 

“While the immediate plan is for the airline to get a strategic partner, these strategic objectives are still aligned with its privatisation agenda,” said Molale.

He further stated that some of the measures put in place for the airline to be more efficient and competitive in the aviation industry are introduction of regional routes, unwavering commitment to international safety standards, On-time Performance (OTP), revenue diversification.   He spoke of the strategy focuses on growing cargo revenue, growing domestic route network, intensify efforts to charter aircraft, both leasing in and out, depending on the needs of the market.

“In the medium to long-term, the airline is working on restructuring its operations to commercialize other divisions and where possible, make them subsidiaries or autonomous entities,” said Molale.

Despite numerous strategic interventions, some on trial and error basis, the airline has been beset with operational problems.

Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatization Agency (PEEPA) – a statutory body mandated to sell state owned enterprises is reported to have been engaged in the search for potential buyers/partners. The agency submitted recommendations on the review of Air Botswana’s operating model for consideration by the Ministry of Transport and Communications in August 2020 which forms part of the plan that Molale spoke about in parliament this week. 

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