They failed Air Botswana

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The Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo has cleared speculations behind the dismissal of Air Botswana General Manager Ben Dahwa and the board, this week.

According to Mabeo they took a decision to part ways with both parties following their failure to come up with a clear turnaround strategy for the ailing national airline. He said that he felt the GM and the board of directors have failed to deliver on their mandate of making Air Botswana sustainable.

The national airline has been limping for some time amid several accusations of poor administration and endless customer complaints. Mabeo said what worried him most was the state of the national airline which he said was not improving, adding that it was difficult for him to implement any strategy under the same leadership. “Since I came on board, I haven’t seen any improvement within Air Botswana, I felt the GM did not deliver what he had vowed to do when he joined the airline,” he said.

“It was not a decision that we took overnight, throughout the meetings we have been engaging the GM and the board to map a way forward to a point when we amicably agreed to part ways,” said Mabeo. The minister noted that the board also somehow played a part as they were expected to help in the improvement of the company adding that they would appoint a new board at the earliest possible time so that the operations of the airline are not affected. The Ministry of Transport and Communications issued a statement that they have appointed the Air Botswana Finance Manager Agnes Khunwane, substantive acting GM as a result of the dismissals.

Moving forward, Mabeo noted that he has plans to help turnaround the airline, a promise that remains to be tested.

“I want to start the airline on a clean slate and see if it can at least sustain itself. I am in pursuit of recapitalising Air Botswana and changing its face so that it can at least sustain itself.”

In addition he said that he still needs to address many issues within the structure of the airline, which includes ICT as well as human resources.

However some sources within Air Botswana have said that there was a possibility of two of the sacked board members  bouncing back adding that there are plans to localise the top post.

The minister also hinted of plans to overhaul all the ministry’s parastatals to ensure value for money noting that many of his parastatals have not borne fruits.

 Recently, President Ian Khama revealed that plans are underway to transform the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA) into an airport city.  As part of their five-year turnaround strategic plan, the national airline has also expressed plans to expand their fleet with seven more aircrafts, as well as enhance their route network.

The strategy, which was implemented last year, was done by ICF Consultants, which were engaged by the Ministry of Transport and Communications 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 route network and schedule, review of internal processes and procedures, use of technology to enhance delivery, fleet upgrade and equipment renewal.

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