Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Air Botswana to spread wings to Harare, Lusaka routes

Following the acquisition of two ATR72-600, the new generation turbo-propelled, aircraft and an Embraer E170 jet, plans are said to be at an advanced stage to secure the second jet on a lease basis which will enable route expansion.

With the integration of new aircraft completed, the airline intends to include Harare and Lusaka from Gaborone, in its route network.

Minister of Transport and Communications Thulagano Segokgo told Parliament through the Mid-Term Review of NDP 11 economy and employment sectoral chapter presentation on transport and communications that as part of its readiness to secure Qatar Airways, Air Botswana has invested an estimated P20million on procurement of equipment and personnel training related expenses. He added that the servicing of Qatar Airways bolsters Air Botswana’s revenue base and helps the airline diversify its portfolio.

“The privatization project which is led by PEEPA with Deloitte Consulting as a Transactional Advisor, has progressed well through Phase I, and is leading to the finalization of the company constitution. Phase II stage will soon commence to round up the strategic choices for the shareholder,” said Segokgo.

He revealed that Delloitte was expected to deliver the draft final report for the review of Air Botswana strategic, operational and financial by the 30th March 2020. He added that the report has arrived in my ministry during the past week. He said the purpose of the draft final report is to advise on changes required to position the airline and operationally sustainable enterprise in the short term pending the privatization of Air Botswana.

Segokgo stated that Botswana commenced the implementation of the Open Skies Policy in 2010, under National Development Plan 10, adding that to date, there are six (6) scheduled carriers, which are Air Botswana, Air Namibia, Ethiopian Airlines, SA Airlink, South African Express and Qatar Airways in the country. He said these airlines offer direct connections between Botswana and; South Africa (Johannesburg), Namibia (Windhoek), Ethiopia (Addis Ababa) and The State of Qatar (Doha).

“We have intensified our efforts to attract more Airlines to our skies and we target to land at least one additional Airline during the next financial year, 2020/21,” he said.

He further stated that to date, the country has signed 33 Bilateral Service Agreements (BASAs) with a number of countries across the world. He added that these agreements allow the designated airlines of those countries to operate commercial flights that cover the transport of passengers and cargoes between Botswana and their countries.

“Through the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana has embarked on a large-scale refurbishment of the existing Maun Airport terminal building, to cater for the surge which we observed, in the number of passenger utilizing this airport. This surge resulted in passenger overcrowding and congestion during peak periods,” said Segokgo.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.