PARLIAMENT – The cabinet is said to be undecided on whether to approve a substantial funding requirement totalling P2.8 billion by the national air line ÔÇô Air Botswana or not.
Minister responsible for Transport, Kitso Mokaila told parliament on Monday that prior to its dissolution, the former Air Botswana board had approved the 2015-2020 strategic plan aimed at turning around the airline by the year 2020.
According to Mokaila, the plan entailed organisational restructuring at an estimated costs of P30 million, improved information technology systems (P30 million), as well as re-fleeting.
Sources within the national airline indicated recently that Air Botswana is in a desperate need to purchase a new fleet of aircrafts following high costs of maintaining the old fleet which resulted in huge financial losses over the past several years.
The Telegraph has been informed that already the airline has sold all of its Jets in a strategy aimed at disposing ageing fleet. However it is said that the disposal of the said Jets has come with huge costs to the airliner as it has since been forced to wet-lease atleast one jet from South Africa. The estimated cost of leasing the Charter Airline has been pegged at P3 million per month translating into P285 million over the last 19 months. The Jet was leased in February 2015 and is currently deployed in the Gaborone – Cape Town route.
On Monday Mokaila confirmed that indeed the 2015-2020 strategy has been presented before cabinet and is being reviewed with other national priorities.
“Taking into consideration the negative economic outlook, successful implementation of the business plan is therefore dependent on cabinet approving the funding aspect of the plan”, Mokaila said.
According to Mokaila, the business plan entailed acquisition of two jets and five turbo propellers totalling P2.7 billion.
In a bid to keep the national carrier alive, government has over the years committed large amounts of money to keep Air Botswana flying at a time when all the South African state owned airliners have entered the country’s small aviation industry.