Botswana's loss-making airline re-fleets

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Bakang Mhaladi
Gaborone -
Struggling national carrier, Air Botswana, has added two planes to its fleet after a recent P290 million cash injection from the government.
Franco-Italian aircraft manufacturer, Avions de Transport Régional (Toulouse Blagnac) confirmed an agreement with Air Botswana for the purchase of two ATR72-600s.
The turboprops will be equipped with the latest navigation aids and will also feature a 70-seat, dual-class cabin, the manufacturer said in a statement.
The new planes are expected to be delivered in Gaborone in the last quarter of the year, which will see Air Botswana retire its ageing fleet.
Air Botswana currently operates a fleet of three ATR42-500s and one ATR72-500 on scheduled passenger flights connecting its Gaborone hub with Francistown, Maun, and Kasane domestically as well as Johannesburg O.R Tambo in South Africa. 
In March, then Minister for Transport and Communications, Kitso Mokaila, confirmed the acquisition of a 70-seat jet from Embraer.
Following the recent capitalisation, the Botswana government is optimistic that the national airliner's value would be significantly enhanced.
There have been three previous attempts to privatise Air Botswana and the government hopes that with the latest re-fleeting, a new suitor might be found.

In March, the Botswana parliament approved a P290 million budget to be used to purchase three planes including two ATR72-600s and a 70-seater Embrear E-jet.
"The investment is expected to add economic value to the government while placing the airline on more solid ground in the journey to privatise and maximise value to the public," Mokaila told parliament recently.
The parastatal's losses have been attributed, in part, to an ageing fleet, overstaffing, fuel-inefficient fleet and increased operational costs.

 

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