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AVIATION INDUSTRY PUT UNDER SPOTLIGHT

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UPBEAT: Air Botswana boss, Sakhile Nyoni

The second aviation pitso was recently in Kasane where challenges facing the industry were discussed and some solutions agreed upon.

Organised by the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana and the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the pitso, which was held under the theme “Aviation efficiency for business excellence: Towards economic growth- The journey continues, gave participants a platform to share the positives, discuss problems and what could be done to improve things for the better.

Opening the event, MTC Minister, Frank Ramsden spoke about some of the issues that were discussed during the inaugural pitso and what had been done to address the concerns.

Amongst the issues raised last year was the opening up of the skies to allow other participants to be licensed for scheduled operations.

“To facilitate this, the Government has continued to update existing Bilateral Air Services (BASA). We have also initiated and concluded the negotiations relating to many new ones. This brings to 20 the number of BASA that have been successfully negotiated to date,’’ said.

He said liberalisation will also present Botswana Registered operators including Air Botswana with a competitive environment and therefore greater business opportunities.

Infrastructure

However although the skies have been liberalised poor air infrastructure was cited as a drawback in attracting business and tourists.

Making a presentation, Botswana Tourism Organisation Investment Executive, Tafa Tafa said air access had been identified as one of the critical factors in realising the forecasted projections of increasing tourist arrivals.

“Statistics show that most arrivals to Botswana are by road which indicates that there is limited access to flights to Botswana and or the cost of flying is too high,’’ he said.

He said limited flights on existing routes and challenging flight connections with the rest of the world and lack of scheduled flights linking different tourist attractions were also impacting negatively on the tourism industry.
“For the tourism industry to contribute to its maximum capabilities, aviation plays a very critical role. There is thus a need for continuous consultation and dialogue between stakeholders in the aviation industry sector and tourism sector for joint planning of critical issues,’’ he said.

For her part, the General Manager of Air Botswana, Sakhile Nyoni said problems and negativity associated with the airline would now be a thing of the past.

It is not something that we can achieve overnight but as time goes on all the bad things associated with Air Botswana will be a thing of the past,’’ she said.

As part of the conclusions, delegates agreed that recommendations should be made to place CAAB in the A instead of C category of parastatals to reflect its strategic importance with the regards to the country’s economy.

Airport operating hours would also be reviewed with the intention of making all international airports 24 hour facilities.