Tuesday, April 23, 2024

‘AG slowing road to air liberalisation’ ÔÇô Aviation industry

There is concern that the delay on the part of the Attorney General (AG) to finalise the formulation of draft bills for the rules and regulations governing the operations of the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) is causing unnecessary prolongation of Air Botswana’s monopoly of the aviation industry.

An industry player Mark Spicer, Managing Director of Flying Mission Services (FMS), argued on Monday they feel deprived to give their share in line with international trend to use aviation as a viable means foe economic diversification.

“Please note that, our concern is not as such Air Botswana dominating the skies, but certainly we believe the conclusion and formal announcement of the rules and regulations governing the skies will enable us to know whether we have a place to contribute to the national economy through expanding our fleet.”

Other private aviation operators referred to as having been in the country for long, and equally affected by the delay in liberalising the skies included National Aviation Corporation (NAC) and Sefofane Air Service.

Spicer made his assertion after the Acting Chief Executive Officer of CAAB, Oganne Maroba, indicated at stakeholders breakfast meeting held at the Cresta Lodge in Gaborone on Monday, his authority was currently seized with issues appertaining to compliance with international standards.
Maroba posited that even though the role of the CAAB was to regulate, it was imperative that the airspace be liberalised on the basis of rules and regulations stipulated by the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO).

“It is against that background that we await the final versions of the bills for the amended acts of Civil Aviation and the Air Botswana Act respectively, as well as the rules and regulations that are compliant with ICAO standards,” stated Maroba.

In attempt to explain the delay, the acting CEO mentioned that part of the problem was that while tended to a common and general legal framework which guided the formulation of bills and regulations for ultimate adoption by Parliament, the distinctly unique nature of the aviation industry dictated a different approach.

To that end, he said a task force including officers from AGC was established after the drafts were sent back and forth, so as to familiarise them with both the language, and technical nature of the aviation operations with a view to inform their work on the drafts which have so far been rejected by the International aviation body.

Maroba added, “On account of that and recent interactive briefings between our CEO and the relevant authorities, we have assured there is a high chance of the bills going to Parliament in the next session of Parliament.”

Currently, Air Botswana enjoys legal exclusive protection by government and some people suspect that part of the delay may be politically motivated.

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