Gaborone — Air Botswana General Manager, Ms Agnes Khunwana says they are working round the clock to unbundle the airline's ground handling unit to make it an autonomously run entity.
Briefing the media on November 19, Ms Khunwana said the unit would position itself commercially to take advantage of the operators authorised to fly into any of the major airports in the country.
She said the unbundling of the handling unit was part of the airline's 2016-2021 turnaround strategy, which would enable it to better position and utilise its limited resources by focusing more on the needs of the customer and running each strategic business unit commercially.
Regarding the re-fleeting, Ms Khunwana said currently, the route network required a three aircraft operation and there was opportunity for more aircraft to facilitate growth, once the airline has stabilised its operations and turned its fortunes around.
She said the successful implementation of the turnaround strategy would be on the basis of the proposed route network, which was based on five aircraft by the end of 2021, being two turbo propellers and three jets.
She however, said the route network continued to be reviewed based on the patterns of travelers, demand, improved connectivity as well as competitive landscape.
Regarding the organisational restructuring, she said the airline intended to right-size staff as per the international practice, to make it more operationally efficient and geared towards profitability and self-sustenance.
She said international practice dictated that an aircraft was supposed to be attended to by 70 people both on board and underground, which was now standing at a ratio of one aircraft 210 personnel.
Ms Khunwana said they had tabled the issue to unions and all affected parties and hope it would be resolved amicably.
The Chairman of the Air Botswana board, Lt. Gen Tebogo Masire said the re-fleeting was continuing as they decided to buy one jet instead of two as previously stated.
He said the airline was looking at normalising its operations first with one jet, so as to win the confidence of its customers.
Lt. General Masire stated that the second jet remained a priority in pursuance of the turnaround strategy, adding that the most immediate intervention in the short term, was for the airline to improve reliability and integrity of its schedule.
He said the On Time Performance (OTP) index was 80 per cent for regional airlines and said Air Botswana's OTP was negatively affected since the beginning of 2019, when the integration of the new aircraft took place. He said their OTP stood at 72 per cent, due to the transition.
He said the plan was for another airline to be contracted to offer back-up support and things went haywire when the operator was permanently grounded.
Source : BOPA