Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Pandemic puts airline industry under siege

In another latest example of how Covid-19 has upended many things, the busiest airport in the country is handling more aircrafts than people, as travel restrictions brought the local tourism industry to a halt.

Statistics Botswana’s recently released Transport and Infrastructure data for the first quarter of the year shows that aircraft movements declined by 38.9 percent when compared to the last quarter of 2019. Subsequently, passenger movements also plunged by 32.9 percent in the first three months of the year, coinciding with the time when many countries enforced travel restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus.

A total of 12,905 movements were recorded in the first quarter, with domestic movements constituting 73.6 percent of total aircraft movements while international movements made up 26.4 percent. International movements declined by 24.6 percent while domestic movements declined by 42.8 percent during the period under review.

Compared to the previous quarter, there was a decline in aircraft movements, with a significant decrease realized in non-scheduled, down by 41.5 percent while scenic movements dropped by 62.1 percent. Scheduled movements declined by 16.1 percent. Non-scheduled flights are usually charter airlines, used mostly by tour operators. Scheduled flights on the other hand are used by national airlines to operate flights according to schedules drawn up to cover several months or even years at a time.

Scheduled arrivals and departures constituted the largest proportion in international aircraft movements in the first quarter, representing 75.4 percent of total international movements. Non-scheduled arrivals and departures dominated in domestic aircraft movements, constituting 77 percent of total domestic movements. All scenic flights were domestic, accounting for 10.3 percent of total domestic aircraft movements.

A total number of 153,201 passenger movements were recorded during the quarter under review, reflecting a decline of 32.9 percent. International passenger movements accounted for 58.9 percent of total passenger movements while 41.1 percent were domestic. International passenger movements dropped by 31.5 percent while domestic passenger movements declined by 34.8 percent. Compared to the same quarter in the previous year, passenger movements declined by 14.8 percent.

The bulk of aircraft movements made in the first quarter of the year, were recorded in Maun, retaining the title of the busiest airport in the country, accounting for 59.1 percent of total aircraft movements. However, it did not mean much when it came to passengers, signalling the loss of tourists. SSKIA accounted for 59 percent of total passenger movements which was the highest in all airports, followed by Maun with 27.4 percent of which 74 percent was domestic passenger movements. SSKIA and Maun recorded a decrease of 25.4 and 41.1 percent respectively.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.