The Air Botswana management team is working day and night to have the airline reinstated by the International Air Traffic Association (IATA) by September this year, Assistant Minister of Works and Transport Frank Ramsden told Parliament yesterday.
He was responding to a question by Member of Parliament (MP) for Mogoditshane Patrick Masimolole who wanted to know whether withdrawal of Air Botswana's membership from IATA was associated with its non-compliance with IATA safety requirements and standards.
The legislator also wanted to know if it is true that non-compliance by the airline was communicated to its former chief executive officer who has since joined IATA.
Ramsden said that IATA Operational Safety Audit programme is an internationally recognised and accepted evaluation system designed to assess operational management and control systems of an airline.
He said that one of the requirements is for standardisation of operating procedures, improvement of safety, quality and security worldwide for its members and uniformity of all airlines programme. He said that IATA had set the deadline for December 31, 2008 for compliance and the AB withdrawal was done before that following advise by the organisation on options available for AB.
"The withdrawal by Air Botswana from IATA was due to failure to pass an IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) which basically requires that the airline should be in line with certain operational and safety systems/programmes prescribed by IATA, such as ensuring that there is uniformity of all airline systems and that Operational Manuals are
The minister added that non-compliance does not necessarily mean that the airline is not safe to operate stating that the Department of Civil Aviation and other countries' Civil Aviation Authorities would not have allowed the airline to continue.
Siele confirmed that former CEO of Air Botswana has since been appointed IATA Regional Vice President of Africa based in Johannesburg and that he is implementing strict compliance with IATA requirements as he does with other airlines who are IATA members.
He acknowledged that AB's withdrawal from IATA has a potential threat to the business but since AB remains in other IATA structures, the airline continues to interline with other airlines. He said not all airlines are IATA members.
In his long question Masimolole had also wanted to know whether AB's suspension would threaten the airline and render it susceptible to renewed privatisation or takeover by South African Airlink.
Airlink tried to take over AB two years ago when government wanted to privatise the airline. MPs opposed the move after learning that Airlink wanted among others to erase national colours from the airline after takeover. It emerged that Airlink did not have enough money and many Batswana were going to lose jobs.