The government's privatisation advisory body, Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) said last week that the Ministry of Works and Transport has recommended the SA Air-link. A high ranking official close to the privatisation process - who preferred not to be named - said that the next step is for government to study the company's proposal and advise them accordingly.
The official added that the November deadline was meant just to guide the process and that there have been some changes from the previous arrangement.
The SA Air Link beat two other suitors for a strategic partnership in the tiny Air Botswana.
It beat the only local suitor - LobAir - under the Asmal Group, which is the sister company of Lobtrans - which transports fuel to many countries in the SADC region and owns a fleet of over 300 trucks.
LobAir company management could not be reached for comment on the outcome of the bid as they were said to be in Johannesburg on official trips. The other company, which submitted tender documents after the bidders' conference was African World Airways.
Initially about eight companies amongst them Kulula.com, Comair, SA Airlink, SA Inter Air, African World Airways, Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise, Tourism Empowerment Group and Switzerland-based Execujet, showed interest in AB. However, many of them did not pitch after the bidders' conference that was held in Gaborone. SA Airlink - a private company - joined SA Airways and SA Express in an alliance, which made them a leading aviation network in Africa.
The airline services more than 20 destinations in the SADC region, operating over 3,500 flights per month with 65,000 passengers. Under the privatisation of AB, it was initially planned that a strategic partner would get 45 percent, the airliner's staff would get 10 percent through Employee Share Ownership Plan, while the other 45 percent was going to be left to the public to buy shares.
However, that has been dropped.