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The Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) financial challenges seem to be easing up, with the entity now bouncing back to the positive outlook in terms of business.
The cash-strapped CAAB has for some time been operating with a higher expenditure than income and had to depend on government for financial support. In addition to their woes, government continued to reduce its subvention allocated to the aviation authority.
CAAB’s financial situation further worsened during the covid-19 pandemic as air travel were suspended and at one point the parastatal was faced with closure but government had to step in.
However, CAAB Chief Executive Officer, Dr Bao Mosinyi has this week revealed to stakeholders in Maun that things are slowly but surely turning around. He revealed that from the four main airports, the Maun International Airport is currently leading in making profit. According to him, the airport is profitable probably for the first time ever after having quickly recovered from the covid-19 pandemic.
“We can say with confidence that the airport has started being profitable. It is not as much as we want, but there is still a lot to do,” said Mosinyi.
He indicated that things are also looking good with the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport which is also becoming profitable. Mosinyi said their next focus now is the Kasane International Airport. As for the Phillip Matante International Airport in Francistown, the CEO indicated that they have a tougher mountain to climb but he has assured that they will see what can be done to make the airport profitable too.
Mosinyi indicated that the organisation generates funds mostly on over flights as compared to operators of the smaller aircrafts. He has however revealed that though air navigation is good business they however have a burden of operating the 23 so-called strategic airfields which he labeled as big time money losing operations. According to him, some of these airfields are still closed because they failed compliancy such as maintenance.
“Air navigation we are fine and we would probably be okay if we didn’t have this big burden to operate these strategic airfields,” said Mosinyi who added that the organisation’s regulatory side is also a financial burden to them. He lamented, “when you look at the reduced subvention from government and the burden of the cost of the regulator as well as the strategic airfields and everything else that government requires us to do, the money just doesn’t cover it all.”
Meanwhile, the CEO has announced that they were able to certify the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in November last year as per the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) requirements which stipulated for every country to have certified at least one international airport by November 2022.
He added that they are now looking to certify the Maun International Airport sometime next month and then shift the focus to certifying the Kasane International Airport sometime in February 2024 before thinking about what they will do with the Phillip Matante International Airport in Francistown.