Air Botswana discontinues Harare, Lusaka flights
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