Thursday, October 28, 2021

Mokaila gets Air Botswana more wings as plans to sell it are temporarily halted

Transport Minister, Kitso Mokaila has said that the government has decided to increase the intrinsic value of Air Botswana before it is put up for privatisation again.

Numerous attempts to sell Air Botswana in the past proved futile with the latest being in 2017 after a local tourism outfit ÔÇô Wilderness Holdings made an eleventh hour decision to pull out of the deal to have it buy the cash stripped airline.

Following the failure to sell the airline, the government has since decided to get it more wings before sending it back to the market.

Amongst other things, a fleet renewal plan which will see the embattled national airline acquire new aircraft has already been drafted.

“The ultimate goal is to privatise Air Botswana but the immediate desire is to have an operationally efficient airline that will be valuable and attractive to potential investors.” Mokaila told Parliament this week.

He later told Sunday Standard that the privatisation process could take a bit of time as they are currently want to increase the value of the National Airline business from a few millions to billions. He added that he wants Batswana to benefit from that.

“The streams of revenue that we want to implement such as air cargo business, maintenance of aircrafts business, and ground handling business will automatically increase the value of Air Botswana. We have secured jobs for Batswana,” said Mokaila.

In a separate Press Statement released this week, the Ministry of Transport indicated that as part of the ongoing process of privatising Air Botswana, a decision has been taken to expand the existing of fleet of the national airline with new aircraft.

“The re-fleeting comprises new equipment, which includes the newly manufactured ATR 72-600 turboprop aircraft”, reads part of the statement which also stated that the latest investment decision by government entails the acquisition of a jet.

In mid February 2018, Air Botswana suspended its Gaborone, Capetown (South Africa) route following the grounding of the CemAir jet that it was wet-leasing.

The jet was reportedly grounded by the South African Civil Aviation Authority over regulatory compliance concerns.

The Airline has been posting crippling losses over the last few years as the national airliner battled with a myriad of problems including a sub-standard fleet, poor customer service, delayed flights and failure to meet international aviation standards.

The government owned company has faced these series of challenges following its failed privatisation in 2004, 2008 and lately in 2017. In addition to engaging consultants some few years back, government has also injected large amounts of money into the national airliner to keep it flying the skies.

Meanwhile Mokaila remained mum on the source of funds to acquire the new fleet as well as the total costs that will be incurred.

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