Maun International Airport vs Dubai International Airport


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The President of Botswanan, HE Dr Eric Mokgweetsi Masisi officially opened the refurbished Maun International Airport on Friday 20th January 2023.  The airport is one of the busiest in the Southern African region in terms of landings and take-offs. The President noted that in 2021, the airport recorded a total of 116,345 passengers and the number increased to a total of 200,929 between January and October 2022.

There is no doubt that Maun International Airport play a significant role in air transportation in Botswana and in the region. The airport has been in existence for decades so is Air Botswana. While this is the case, several questions arise about Maun International Airport especially when compared to other international airports around the world.

These questions include the following: i) Does Maun Airport have a Masterplan (if so, what are its targets, timelines), ii) Does the Master Plan vision Maun International Airport becoming a regional air transportation hub. In next 10 or 20 years, what are we envisaging Maun International Airport and Air Botswana to look like?

Dubai International Airportrt is the primary international airport serving Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and is the world’s busiest airport by international passenger traffic. It is one of the busiest airports in the world by passenger traffic and cargo in the world. It is the busiest airport for Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 movements.

The airport has the highest average number of passengers per flight. For example, in 2017, the airport handled 88 million passengers and 2.65 million tonnes of cargo and registered 409,493 aircraft movements. The number of passengers is on the increase on annually bases as is the case with Maun International Airport.

The Construction of the Dubai International Airport started in 1959 and the Airport was officially opened in 1960.  The airport has gone through several refurbishment until 2012. What is interesting with Dubai International Airport is that it has a Masterplan. This Master Plan covers Airports, Airlines, Design, Engineering, Construction, Master Plans, Runways, Terminals, Facilities from an Airport Planning perspective.

The leaders and planners of Dubai International Airport have a vision for the airport which has resulted in Dubai becoming a world Class International Airport. The vision of Dubai International Airport includes the expansion of the country’s airline, Emirates where the leaders of the country have always wanted to develop it into a world Class airliner. Conversely, one can pose a rhetoric question about the vision of Maun International Airport, and equally, what is the vision of Air Botswana.

Emirates was conceived on 15 March 1985, with Pakistan International Airlines loaning Emirates two of the airline’s first aircraft. In 1987, Emirates owned its first aircraft, an Airbus A310-305 and flew from Toulouse to Dubai. Within the first 5 years since its inception, Emirates expanded to 14 destinations, including Mumbai, Dhaka, Istanbul, and Frankfurt. Today, Emirates is one of the largest airlines on the planet and one of the world’s most recognizable airlines.

Emirates has become a formidable force in the aviation industry. Operating a fleet of 254 aircraft to over 157 destinations, Emirates has truly become one of the top airlines globally. The combination of intelligent management, geographical location, and governmental support have contributed to the success of Emirates Airlines. Emirates’ strategy is unique in that it plans to serve the connecting market with just long.

Although Maun International Airport is known for bringing tourists to and from the Okavango Delta, with Intelligent planning and management, Maun International Airport can become the “Dubai International Airport” of Botswana. Its geographical location and the already existing tourism product of the Okavango Delta can easily turn the airport into a regional hub for southern Africa with passengers who do not want to use OR Tambo connecting from Maun.

The recent refurbishment of Maun International Airport was a reactive approach to the passenger congestion and dilapidation of the airport than any serious long-term planning required for a busy international airport such as Maun International Airport. Maun International Airport requires a proactive planning approach in the form of a Master Plan, so is Air Botswana. That approach will yield significant economic benefits not only to Maun and Botswana but to Southern Africa and the world.


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