Botswana has opened her skies to more international airlines with the signing of a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) with Mauritius, bringing such agreements to nine. Botswana seeks to fully liberalise her airways in an attempt to improve aviation and improving her competitive edge in trade and tourism.
The formalisation of the two agreements, which were negotiated with the two countries last year, will see airlines such as Air Mauritius flying to Botswana. The government of Botswana will be able to designate any other Botswana carriers to these countries in addition to Air Botswana.
The agreement means airlines of the two countries will be able to directly access any destinations in either state by air to major tourist and mining hubs. The main provisions of the agreement are the designation of Air Mauritius and Air Botswana to operate air routes between Plaisance, Gaborone and any or more intermediate and beyond points. Three frequencies in each direction per week on the specified routes using any aircraft type will be allowed by the designated airlines with no restrictions on all cargo services.
Botswana already has eight BASAs with Belgium, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In addition Botswana has also signed memoranda of understanding with 10 countries, Angola, Egypt, Germany, France, Netherlands, Pakistan, Tanzania, Qatar, Singapore and United Arab Emirates.
“The liberalisation of the airways has been identified as a key driver to the growth of the tourism sector, which is a substantial contributor to the country’s economic growth,” said Nonofo Molefhi, the Minister of Transport and Communications.
Molefhi said ongoing relocation of DTC International from London has also put pressure on Botswana to speed up the opening of its skies in order to attract global airlines to operate direct flights to Gaborone from major international cities where diamantaires are based.
It is Molefhi’s expectation that the signing agreement will further contribute to the enhancement of trade and tourism between our two countries.
Through such agreements, Air Namibia and South African Link recently started operations to Gaborone and Maun respectively while Air Botswana has also expanded its route network to include three flights per week from Maun to Cape Town.
The agreements have been hailed by the national airline Air Botswana. “This is in line with our expansion strategy because it’s laying the groundwork for us,” said Joe Motse, the Commercial Director at Air Botswana.