Air Botswana plans to expand its fleet with seven more aircrafts as well as enhance the route network.
The Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises was yesterday told that this is part of the airline’s five-year turnaround strategic plan.
“We want seven aircrafts to be procured in a period of three years so that by the end of 2018, we will be having them,” Air Botswana General Manager, Ben Dahwa told the committee.
This is expected to improve efficiency and boost the airline’s performance, which the GM said has been declining over the years and with clients losing confidence in the airline. According to Dahwa, the new aircrafts will offer business class, a service he said they do not currently offer.
“We are still in negotiations with the relevant stakeholders regarding the re-fleeting. We have submitted proposals to the shareholders and the Ministry of Transport and Communications to source funding,” said Dahwa.
He added that they have given shareholders two options, which include re-capitalisation and another one that will allow shareholders to underwrite a loan facility.
According to Dahwa, they have given priority to the recapitalisation route as informed by their strategy, which benchmarked within the region from countries that have the same economy as Botswana.
Furthermore, the GM said they will take advantage of plans that are underway to transform the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport into a regional hub, with particular focus on increasing their cargo business.
“We are not purely focusing on passengers, we have identified cargo as one area of focus. Currently, we are leasing cargo aircraft twice a week to Johannesburg,” he said.
Dahwa also said that, as part of their marketing strategy, they will need support from the shareholders to restructure the organisation for effective and maximum performance which he said will cost a lot of money to put together as well as get the right skills.
He also noted that they need to adapt to the latest technology and upgrade their systems of operations, as most of their machines are manual, which contributes to inefficiency.
“Our market strategy was guided by the results of the study carried out by the consultants whom we engaged last year,” he said.
Last year, the Ministry engaged ICF Consultants to assist in developing a turnaround strategy for Air Botswana.
The strategy is expected to focus on the airline’s operations which include rationalisation of the route network and schedule, review of internal processes and procedures, use of technology to enhance delivery, fleet upgrade and equipment renewal.