Air Botswana in auto pilot

Bame Piet
GOING ITS WAY: Air Botswana flies into turbulence

We will find replacement of GM sooner

Air Botswana will not be grounded – Molale

Minister of Transport and Public Works, Eric Molale, has said that the national airline will not be grounded due to the recent departure of the General Manager Dr Agnes Khunwana.

In a thinly veiled jab at the outgoing national airline boss who has apparently refused to renew her contract, Molale said Khunwana’s departure will not affect Air Botswana’s operations. “She is not the first person to be appointed and resign from that position, why should you think that the airline can be grounded. We have many capable Batswana who can run that airline,” he said in response to our enquiries this week.

The Minister would however neither discuss the reasons for Dr Khunwana’s departure nor indicate if the government has found her replacement. “That is a private matter that I cannot discuss with you, she is the one who can share her reasons with you. We will find the replacement in due course,” he said.

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Several attempts by The Voice to get a comment from Dr Khunwana drew a blank as her phone rang unanswered for the better part of Tuesday afternoon.

Khunwana who was the first female General Manager of the national airline joined the organization almost six years ago.

According to latest reports, the national airline has been struggling to comply with basic requirements for an Air Operator Certificate since the beginning of the year as required by the regulator, Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB).

Dr Khunwana departs at a time when the national carrier is left with a few days before expiry of a third month extension for Air Botswana to convince the Regulator that it is indeed working to resolve the outstanding issues.

Some of the requirements for the AOC are availability of qualified and experienced personnel, assets of acceptable condition, and systems in place to ensure the safety of airline employees and the general public.

The requirements also include transparency in appointment of key accountable staff, who are responsible for specific safety critical functions such as training, maintenance of aircraft, and other equipment, and assurance of smooth general operations.

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The carrier must also have a sufficient insurance to cover any injury or death of a passenger, and must avail prove of such to the regulator.

Meanwhile, the figures from Central Statistics Botswana, Quarter 2 of 2022 experienced an increase in aircraft movements of over 100 percent after registering 17,902 movements from 8,802 in Q1 2022. International aircraft movements made up 20.7 percent of these movements while 79.3 percent were domestic.

“Non-scheduled aircraft arrivals accounted for 38.4 percent of total aircraft movements while the non–scheduled departures made up 38.0 percent. Both private departures and private arrivals recorded the least with 1.3 percent of total movements each,” says the report. SO far CSB has not yet availed Q3 of 2022 and Q1 of 2023 the latter which elapsed on March 31st.

The country’s main airports of Maun and Kasane received 66.8, and 15.8 percent of total aircraft movements, respectively. During the same period Sir Seretse Khama International Airport followed by Kasane International airport with 15.8 percent. Sir Seretse Khama International and Francistown airports had 14.8 percent and 2.1 percent respectively.

During the same period a total of 172,890 passenger movements were recorded during Q2 2022, an increase of 76.9 percent when compared to the previous quarter. Both international and domestic passenger movements recorded increases, at 66.3 and 90.0 percent respectively.

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While many airlines are reporting a significant recovery from the COVID19 pandemic, it is not clear at this point what is the health of Air Botswana since it does not regularly update the nation on its business. As per the latest Auditor General’s Report for the year ended March 31st 2021, the working capital of the airline showed a total assets of P123million and total current liabilities of P127 million.

The airline started a refleeting exercise in 2018, which was followed by a rebranding exercise.

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