Framework for Air Botswana Privatisation Imminent

Gallivant Africa

Legislation for the privatisation of Air Botswana (BP, Gaborone) is expected to be promulgated this month, according to Minister of Transport and Communications Thulaganyo Segokgo.

Presenting his ministry’s recurrent and development budget for the 2022/23 Financial Year to the Parliamentary Committee of Supply on March 21, he said: “Promulgation of the Transition Act is expected to be initiated from April 2022”.

He said privatisation models such as a strategic equity partner or investor/s and a public-private partnership (PPP) model were being explored before expressions of interest would be invited. The state-owned airline is currently conducting benchmarking exercises with other national airlines that have been privatised, he said.

In the meantime, Air Botswana is following a three-year strategic recovery plan (2021-2024), focusing on diversifying its revenue streams and being more cargo-driven.

The airline has negotiated special prorate agreements (SPA) with unnamed long-haul operators from identified source markets, including China, India, Dubai, Europe, Singapore, Indonesia, and South Africa. General sales and services agents (GSSA) have been appointed in China, India, Dubai, Germany (covering the European region), and South Africa since November 2021.

Owing to the small capacity of its aircraft, Air Botswana is using surface and air transport to transport bulk cargo between Johannesburg O.R. Tambo, South Africa, and Botswana’s capital Gaborone. The airline is also working with the Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM) to secure a monthly consignment of 150 tonnes of cargo from China.

The national carrier has a fleet of three in-house aircraft, comprising two ATR72-600s and one ERJ 170-100LR, ch-aviation fleets advanced data reveals.

Segokgo also announced that Zimbabwean private carrier Fastjet Zimbabwe (FN, Harare Int’l) has been licensed to operate regular services between Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Maun, Botswana commencing July 2022.

He said two charter flights from Israel were received in March, “and we are confident that these services will eventually culminate into scheduled air services,” he said, but gave no further details.

By March 2022, aircraft and passenger traffic had recovered to 43.5% and 36.7%, respectively, compared to before the pandemic, after having been down by 85% and 87.9%, respectively, a year ago.

Meanwhile, Botswana is preparing for an International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) audit in June 2022. “My ministry is working hard to ensure that Botswana scores at least 70% target rating, which will be an 8.93% improvement from the 2018 rating of 61.07%,” he said. Botswana is also certifying its international airports to comply with new airport certification requirements targets for ICAO state members. Preparations for certification are at an advanced state, targeting October 2022 for the ICAO mandatory certification of Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA) in Gaborone.

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