The arrival of new airlines in the local aviation space does not threaten Air Botswana, the airline insists.
In the last few years, airlines such as Kenya Airways and Ethiopia Airlines have been granted permission to enter the local airspace which some believe will further dampen the prospects of Air Botswana due to the airlines’ capabilities.
But Air Botswana says competition has been inevitable in the last few years with following the liberalisation of the country’ skies.
“We see it rather as a chance for growth as we seek opportunities for possible synergies and partnerships with new carriers. Crucial to this is for us is to poise our self to be able to compete in order to retain and thereby grow our market share,” the airline spokesperson, Thapelo Moribame said.
In 2014, the airline made a loss of P100 million from P76 million the year previous and P47 million the year before that, according to the 2014 Auditor General’s report. The Auditor General noted the dependency on government support by the airline as a going-concern.
During the past immediate year, Air Botswana was rescued by the government with P63 million while expenditure reached P506 million. And efforts, according to Moribame, are currently being channeled towards stabilising operations for operational efficiency an improving On Time-Performance (OTP). “Our short-term focus is to enhance and optimise current operations,” she said.
As at 31 March 2014, Air Botswana’s balance sheet showed current assets of P79.9 million and current liabilities of P206.8 million.
But with the current situation, the airline does not have immediate plans for expansion to other markets. Air Botswana’s routes are currently limited to the region and arrival of airlines such as Ethiopian Airlines is seen as a further threat to the national carrier.
The airline recently leased a new jet to ensure the airline maintained schedule integrity while its two owned aircraft are under operational review.
Moribame said there are also no plans to lease more aircrafts in the near future as the aircrafts in operation are able to sustain the airline’s schedule of operations.
Air Botswana’s problems apart from losses have been well documented, ranging from aircrafts experiencing technical delays resulting in delays as well as General Mangers not seeing the end of their terms, mostly through resignation. But still the airline still remains hopeful of a turnaround of circumstances.
The Auditor General in her report had raised concerns that Air Botswana had not complied with all the financial provisions of the Air Botswana Act which require its revenues to be sufficient to produce a reasonable rate of return.
Since the arrival of the current General Manager, Ben Dahwa there has been renewed sense hope at the airline which is known for flight delays and cancellations. The airline is currently implementing a turnaround strategy with expectations on improving operations.