Civil Aviation Authority Botswana’s newly appointed chief executive officer (CEO) Bao Mosinyi said the loss-making parastatal’s biggest expense is the wage bill revealing that they spend about P17 million a month to pay salaries.
Mosinyi said they have strategic airfields across the countries that are beneficial to other departments but have been failing to make money out of them. In addition, he said traffic is still low at all the local major airports that are in Gaborone, Maun, Kasane and Francistown. “We have to comply to the international standards as to when you run an airport, but when you look at the usage in our airports, our traffic is still very low and it doesn’t help much as covering the costs that you must incur to be able to remain compliant for the airport to stay in that relevant category,” he said.
The other challenge that aviation faces is the reluctance of the shareholder to increase charges that are levied on the operators and related costs. “A few years ago, we proposed an aviation levy and unfortunately this was not approved. But we are happy to mention that the conversation that we had with the ministry is positive and we are hopeful that it will finally come to fruition,” he said.
Mosinyi added that the passenger fees that they charge are the lowest in the region. He, however, pinned hopes on the upcoming airport city, which they are developing in partnership with Special Economic Zones Authority.
Before COVID-19, there were six airlines which include Air Botswana, Air Namibia, Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways, Qatar, and Emirates, which had already expressed interest to fly from Dubai through Gaborone to Johannesburg.
According to the CEO, unfortunately, two of the above flights have been liquidated while Qatar Airways stopped flying to Botswana citing that there was no business.