Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Qatar Airways may pursue an equity stake in Air Botswana

The chief executive officer (CEO) of Qatar Airways, Badr Mohammed Al Meer, says the Doha based Airline will make an announcement “in two to three weeks” on its investment in a southern African carrier.

Speaking at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha which was held recently from May 14th to 16th, Badr Mohammed Al Meer said they “have a very bad network in Africa” and the only equation missing in covering the whole of Africa is central and southern Africa.

“The last piece of the equation is southern Africa. We haven’t announced this yet but we are in the final stage of an equity investment in an airline in the southern part of Africa,” he says, adding that “this airline will complement the operation of Kigali as a hub”. When quizzed if the airline is state owned, Badr Mohammed Al Meer said “you will find out”.

In southern Africa, the Doha based airline has codeshare agreements with various airlines such as Rwandair, Air Botswana and Airlink. The latter deal with Airlink was inked in June 2022 and is reported to provide connectivity in over twelve countries and almost fifty destinations.

Although South African Airways which is trying to rebuild its reputation following a string of corruption allegations has also  been tipped as a potential target, it is reported that Qatar Airways inquired with the government of Botswana in early 2024 about the sustainability of the struggling Air Botswana and were interested to be furnished with more details surrounding the aircraft.

Almost three months ago, minister of finance Peggy Serame noted that Air Botswana “is going through a process of identifying a strategic partner in preparation for privatisation”.

Due to Air Botswana’s financial and credibility struggles, the parastatal embarked on a three-year strategic recovery plan that will last from 2021 to 2024. Air Botswana’s priorities for the recovery plan include financial sustainability, increasing cargo-drivenness, operational excellence and diversifying revenue streams. The airline is still being considered for privatisation.


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