Air Botswana is currently struggling to meet its customer service demand due to the delay in certification of its new jet Embraer E-170. The 70 seater jet has been parked since its acquisition last year owing to licensing and certification processes.
A media statement from the airline released last week says that the organization is presently experiencing service disruptions owing to severe crew constraints. The challenges are caused by the delay in certification of process of their new aircraft thereby stretching their limited crew.
In an interview with the Sunday Standard on Friday, the Marketing Manager at Air Botswana, Tebogo Zebe said the limitation delay has lead to compression of flight schedules, last minute flight cancelletions, flight combinations and delays of departure times encroached on already limited crew hours.
“What happens is that we have the other cabin crew that has been trained only for the new Jet aircraft which is still awaiting certification and licensing. For them to fly the already existing ATR aircraft models, they have to satisfy certain flying hours to qualify and be licensed. The delay in the licensing of this new jet has caused a severe crew constraint. The crew cannot fly these other aircrafts,’ she said.
Zebe however said that they hope the situation will be normalized this month(April). She also revealed that they expect the new Jet to be fully licensed and operational during the same month She further said that they have cut the current operating aircrafts to only two.
“If for an example many passengers are travelling to Kasane than Francistown, we are forced to combine them into one flight. The aircraft can be forced to travel to Kasane and then Francistown. Can you imagine if we only have to transport four passengers to Francistown, that would be costly to the airline,” she asked.
She apologized to customers and said Air Botswana will communicate on time concerning the affected flights to reduce incoveniences to its passengers.
Air Botswana currently owns four aircrafts which comprise of two new ATR 72-600, one Embraer E- 170 jet and an ATR 42-500. The new jet was acquired from a Canadian Company named Regional One.It was delivered and was officially handed on 29 December 2018 in Gaborone. The acquisition of the jet is part of Air Botswana’s fleet upgrade programme. The airline has acquired another jet and it is expecting it in the third quarter of 2019.
According to information from Air Botswana, the long process of certification and registration involves de-registration of the aircraft from its former regulatory juridistiction and for Botswana (CAAB) to start enforcing its regulations. There is also supposed to be a start of process for compliance with Botswana regulations by securing a (Certificate of Air Worthiness) The aircraft also has to be included in the Air Botswana’s Air Operator Certificate so that it can be commercially available. The airline will also have to apply for international operations, which is known as Foreign Operators Permit (FOP) which can only be done after the CAAB certification processes are completed. This will enable it to fly internationally.