Air Botswana dis­con­tin­ues Harare, Lusaka flights

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle -

AIR Botswana has sus­pended the Gaborone-Harare and Gaborone-Lusaka routes as of last week­end as part of the air­line’s plans to en­hance the sched­ule ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion ex­er­cise for the up­com­ing sum­mer pe­riod.

In ad­di­tion, there will be one less fre­quency per week be­tween Gaborone and Kasane ef­fec­tive from Mon­day this week with the sus­pen­sion of the flight. How­ever, the air­line stated that there will still be at least five weekly fre­quen­cies both ways be­tween the two cities.

Ac­cord­ing to Air Botswana pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer, Thabiso Leshoai the ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion is part of the air­line’s plan to en­hance sched­ule in­tegrity and im­prove cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence with­out com­pro­mis­ing its com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­ity. Air Botswana was fly­ing the Gaborone-Harare route three times a week.

Mean­while, the high price of jet fuel in Botswana has been cited as one of the fac­tors that con­trib­ute to the poor per­for­mance of Air Botswana as it is said to be the high­est in Africa.

Speak­ing at the African Air­lines As­so­ci­a­tion (AFRAA) re­cently, the sec­re­tary gen­eral, Dr Eli­jah Chin­gosho men­tioned that one of the fac­tors that con­trib­ute to the poor per­for­mance of the na­tional car­rier among oth­ers is the high jet fuel price.

“The jet fuel price in Botswana is one of the high­est in Africa, which se­verely neg­a­tively af­fects the com­pet­i­tive ca­pac­ity of the na­tional car­rier,” he said.

The rel­a­tively high price of jet fuel in Botswana has been blamed on lo­gis­tics as well as economies of scale. Un­like other coun­tries in the re­gion, which use rail and pipe­line to im­port fuel, the com­mod­ity is brought in by road in Botswana push­ing up the cost.

On the other hand, the low vol­umes used in Botswana have also contributed to the higher price with the coun­try’s to­tal con­sump­tion es­ti­mated at 15 mil­lion litres per an­num. On av­er­age, the OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional air­port is es­ti­mated to con­sume about two bil­lion litres of jet fuel per an­num while the Lanse­ria Air­port con­sumes about 700 000 litres.

Ac­cord­ing to IATA, African air­lines made a loss of $700 mil­lion in 2015, a record loss that is ex­pected to be fol­lowed by another sig­nif­i­cant loss of $500 mil­lion in 2016.

Dr Chin­gosho at­trib­uted the rea­sons for the poor per­for­mance to in­tense com­pe­ti­tion on long haul routes with Euro­pean, Mid­dle East and Asian car­ri­ers, lack of lib­er­al­i­sa­tion of African skies for African op­er­a­tors as well as blocked funds in states like An­gola, Egypt, Nige­ria and Su­dan.

“High in­dus­try costs, which are much higher than global stan­dards in pas­sen­gers and fuel taxes, fees and charges due to some gov­ern­ments view­ing air trans­port as a pre­serve for the rich, and in­ad­e­quate in­fra­struc­ture in sev­eral states also af­fect the com­pet­i­tive­ness of the in­dus­try,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Chin­gosho, in­dus­try costs par­tic­u­larly the gen­eral high pas­sen­ger and fuel taxes, fees and charges at sev­eral sta­tions in Africa need to also come down to the global av­er­age to fa­cil­i­tate the vi­a­bil­ity and com­pet­i­tive­ness of African car­ri­ers. — Mmegi

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