Open up the skies – Keorapetse

Daniel Chida
CONCERNED: Dithapelo Keorapetse

Member of Parliament (MP) for Selibe Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse, says there is a need to formulate a policy that allows for small domestic carriers to enter the market.

When debating the Civil Aviation (amendment) Bill, 202 in parliament this week, Keorapetse said this would not only contribute to employment creation, but also economic diversification as well.

Keorapetse said that CAAB needs to draft measures such a reduced landing, parking and navigation fees for small carriers.

“Carriers that seek to utilise underutilized airports like Selebi-Phikwe, Ghanzi, Francistown, must be incentivised by offering them reduced passenger taxes, navigation fees and landing fees as it is the case with budget airlines like EasyJet, RyanAir, Mango, Kulula, FlySafair and others,” Keorapetse said, further calling on the government through CAAB to genuinely liberalize the aviation market.

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The Phikwe West MP said CAAB should stop hindering new private carriers to operate on certain routes as a way to protect the Air Botswana monopoly.

He said that CAAB should also build an airstrip or airport in Letlhakane/Orapa to allow new carries to operate from Gaborone to the area which has some of the best paid employees in the country working in the mines, with a lot of disposable income.

The MP further criticized how the Air Botswana employees were treated during the COVID-19 period.

“It’s sad how you dealt with COVID-19 by placing some workers on effective unpaid leaves and or applied no work no pay. I don’t know any State Owned Enterprise (SOE) which has done that,” Keorapetse said, adding that some Air Botswana workers have lost properties as a result.

“I’m advised you’ve lost a case before the commissioner of labour on this matter and you may be headed to the courts. So, please comply with the 6th August 2021 Court Of Appeal (CoA) judgment in a matter between Air Botswana and Air Botswana Employees Union.

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The MP advised the airline to pay all workers and not only those who are unionized, being litigants.

“The not Unionized haven’t been paid and do you want them to also go to court and wallop you there for you to pay? Be clear if you’re not paying,” commented Keorapetse.

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