Minister of Transport and Communications, Dorcas Makgato, has blamed lack of prior planning in the acquisition of new aircraft by Air Botswana, which she says causes massive flight delays currently experienced by the airline.
When answering a question from Member of Parliament (MP) for Nkange, Edwin Batshu, Makgato told parliament there should be planning done before acquisition of new equipment in the aviation industry.
Last year Air Botswana acquired two new turbo propeller ATR 72-600s and an Embraer 170 jet as part of its re-fleeting exercise, however this equipment remains grounded pending licensing and certification process for the planes to operate in Botswana airspace by both Air Botswana and Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB).
“Normally in this industry when you do acquisitions, you must plan for it. You plan for it in a number of ways; there is the licensing aspect of it, equipment itself and the licensing of the crew that is going to operate it,” Makgato told parliament, adding that transition has to be planned.
The minister said in the planning phase, they dropped the ball, going further to take the blame for this lack of it, although she was appointed to her current position after acquisitions were done.
“Air Botswana did not plan for this transition which resulted in this prolonged certification process which is happening between three parties. It is happening between CAAB, Air Botswana and us the Ministry,” revealed the minister.
Training of replacement crew for the ATRs pilots is said to be currently ongoing in France, which has resulted in limited crew and aircraft availability.
The minister said this meant the remaining resources had to cover for routes that were expected to be covered by grounded jets.
“We are hoping that in the next two weeks we should have finished this process of certification and the jets will be back in service,” said the minister, emphasizing that flight delays will be history come end of this month.