The Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA) earlier this month became a hive of activity as international flights bound for OR Tambo International Airport (SA) diverted to Gaborone owing to bad weather.
The six aircraft; Turkish41 (Airbus 333), SAA208 (Airbus 343), SAA4020 (Airbus319), Namibia729 (Airbus 319), SAA055 (Airbus 343), and SAA083 (Airbus 319) carried a total of 694 passengers and crew.
They were flying from Cape Town, Dakar, Port Elizabeth, Windhoek, Luanda, and Point Noire respectively.
Observers say the country’s Air Traffic Control’s ability to handle that kind of traffic proves that the practitioners are among the best in the world.
Civil Aviation Authority Botswana (CAAB)’s Public Affairs Manager, Modipe Nkwe, says it happens all the time that planes get diverted to the SSKIA for various reasons ranging from bad weather to mechanical complications.
“Sir Seretse Khama International Airport being the nearest international airport to OR Tambo, it was only natural for the flights to be diverted here,” he said.
┬áAlthough he says it has occurred before, Nkwe admits they have never had to handle as many aircrafts in such a short space of time (30 minutes). He says CAAB proved its capability to handle large hauls of big aircrafts at a time. “A total of six aircraft carrying more than 694 passengers and crew were handled within thirty minutes from 1557 hours and 1626 hours proving the capability of Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana’s air traffic controllers and airport management’s ability to handle traffic.”
A statement from Puma Energy, which runs a fuel deport at SSKIA, says the flurry of unscheduled flights was a major boost for the company as the aircrafts consumed 58,750 litres in a four hour period.
“Our depot received a call at 17:15 hour’s┬á on Monday October 7th requesting us to be on standby to fuel a South African Express flight which was returning due to bad weather at the OR Tambo International Airport,” said Puma Energy’s Operations Manager for Botswana, Boineelo Shubane. He said the depot averages 30┬á000 litres of aviation fuel per day.