Maun International Airport, Airstrips And Conservation


Maun International Airport located in Maun was refurbished from 2019 to 2021 at a cost of some million Botswana Pulas. It will be officially opened this Friday by the President of Botswana HE Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi. There is no doubt to the effect that Maun International Airport significantly contributes to the economy of Ngamiland District and Botswana as a whole.

The tourism industry in the Okavango Delta is the main beneficiary of Maun International Airport in terms of clients. That is, the airport is open to both domestic and international air traffic, and mainly serves as the gateway for tourists visiting the world famous Okavango Delta. In addition, government workers and business people fly in and out of Maun Airport every day.

Maun International Airport is the busiest airport in Botswana in terms of passenger traffic, followed by Sir Seretse Khama International Airport. The airport is the main base for tourist activities in the Okavango area and other parts of North West District. Most aircraft movements are short-hop flights to and from airfields or airstrips from the Okavango Delta.

That is, Maun International Airport functions as a hub for small single and twin-engine aircraft feeding mainline carriers mostly Air Botswana and South Africa’s AirLink. Prior to COVID-19, Maun International Airport is reported to have had an average of 256 aircraft landing and taking off each day during the tourist peak seasons of April to October. In the non-tourist peak season of November to March, an average of 157 aircraft landings and take offs each day.

Most of this aircraft movement were carried out by small engine aircrafts that fly into the delta either to transport tourists or carry supplies. By then, there were about eight privately owned air companies with a total of 44 small engine aircrafts operating in the Okavango Delta and using Maun International Airport as the main base. Some of these air companies include: Sefofane Air, Mack Air, Safari Air, Helicopter Horizon, Moremi Air, Delta Air, Northern Air, etc, However, some of these companies were severely affected by COVID-19.

In the Okavango Delta, there are more than 30 privately owned airfields and government airstrips excluding those operated by the Botswana Defence Force. The refurbishing of Maun International Airport is hoped to make Maun Airport capable of receiving bigger aircrafts. The expansion of Maun Airport suggests an increase in volume of tourists, airport facilities, the number of small bush aircrafts and employment opportunities especially for the local people.

While this is a positive economic development, care should be taken to prevent negative environmental impacts in the area especially in the Okavango Delta. Air transportation is known for the emission of gases which are dangerous to the environment. That is, emissions from aviation are a significant contributor to climate change. Airplanes burn fossil fuel which not only releases CO2 emissions but also has strong warming non-CO2 effects due to nitrogen oxides (NOx), vapour trails and cloud formation triggered by the altitude at which aircraft operate.

Through the emissions from combustion of fossil-derived fuels, air transportation contributes to degraded air quality, as well as a changing climate. Air transportation also leads to noise pollution especially for people living adjacent to airports. In Maun, Sedie ward, Botshabelo, Sanyedi and Shashe are experience noise pollution from air transportation.

Noise pollution is also common in some parts of the Okavango Delta and this affects the wildlife, birds and other species in the area. This, therefore, suggests that studies on limits of acceptable change or carrying capacity of both Maun and the Okavango Delta should be carried out to determine the level of expansion and the volume of air transportation that should be allowed at Maun International Airport and in the Okavango Delta.


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