An Air Botswana Flight 202 carrying close to 50 passengers made an emergency u-turn in mid air last week after being alerted of looming danger 20 minutes after take off.
The flight, whose destination was Gaborone, is alleged to have taken off from the Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg (South Africa) at the usual take off time of 7:00pm. However, the passengers were shocked when, 20 minutes into flight, they were told that the flight was experiencing some technical problems and would therefore be returning to Oliver Tambo International airport.
Contacted about the incident, Air Botswana Commercial Manager, Philip Nkokou, who said he did not know much about what transpired, confirmed to The Sunday Standard that indeed one of their commercial flights which was supposed to have left Johannesburg for Gaborone at 1900 hours had suffered a minor setback resulting in the flight being aborted.
“I don’t have much information about what happened but what has been reported is that our 202 flight had a puncher in one of its tires after taking off and, therefore, had to turn back,” he said.
Nkokou, who did not want to be drawn into discussing the details of the cancelled flight, dismissed allegations that the flight had been cancelled due to a mechanical fault in the plane’s system.
“Even a brand new car can suffer a puncher and it’s not true that we don’t do regular maintainace to our flights,” he told The Sunday Standard.
Nkokou also stated that the company managed to secure hotel accommodation for the passengers for the night but flew them to Gaborone the following morning on Air Botswana Flight 210 which safely arrived at Sir Seretse Khama airport at 8 on Friday morning.
In 2002 Air Botswana had to hire aircraft from a South African company after two of its carriers broke down. Online opinions about Air Botswana’s flights traveling between Johannesburg and Gaborone complain that the planes are in desperate need of refurbishment. They also say Air Botswana lacks service quality while others complained about the seats saying they are uncomfortable.
Air Botswana was taken over by government in 1988, only a few years after its establishment. Government has since stalled its privatization.