The swelling tourist numbers into the resort town of Maun every year have pushed up the country’s aircraft movements. Latest figures from the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) for the 2nd quarter of the financial year 2017-18 reflect a significant rise; a total of 23, 605 aircraft movements were recorded, marking an 8.8 percent increase compared to the previous quarter.
“The main contributing factor to Botswana air traffic is Maun Airport, which normally accounts for over 50 percent of the total aircraft movements per year. This airport serves as a major link between the international traffic and the tourist destinations around Okavango Delta,” said Modipe Nkwe, CAAB Head of Public Relations and Communications.
[During the quarter under review, Maun airport recorded an increase of over nine percent aircraft movements, attributed to a continual increase in tourist numbers into Maun. CAAB also indicated that the country has improved its rating by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) from 53.78 percent to 71.32 percent for effective implementation of the aviation safety Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) from 2015.]
“This marked positive improvement rate puts Botswana above both the Africa average of 48.24 percent and the world average of 63.44 percent,” Nkwe said.
Additionally, he said the growth of aviation in Maun also means positive growth in tourism, which can be an option to the country’s economic diversification.
“It must however, also be noted that this can have a negative effect on the environment should the flow of tourists surpass what our environment can take,” he said.
Apart from spinoffs in the tourism industry, the increase in aircraft movement has also had a significant positive impact on employment, as new entrants into the aviation market are applying for operating licenses, Nkwe noted.
“Existing operators are also increasing their aircraft fleet in order to meet the demand.”
Nkwe revealed that major airlines including Ethiopian Airlines, Air Namibia, SA Airlink, and South African Airways which have set up operations here, are slowly showing interest in operating in Botswana.
“Consequently, a good number of Batswana are employed by these airlines as sales agents, ground handlers and other ancillary duties,” Nkwe said.
Meanwhile, CAAB anticipates continued growth in air traffic and estimates aircraft movements for the financial year 2017/18 will reach 77,564.
Last week we ran a piece on the newly revamped Kasane airport being ready to welcome guests. We concluded the piece questioning why plans to give Maun airport the same treatment seem to be stalling. With this report from the CAAB, it’s abundantly clear that the revamp is long overdue. Maun in its current state simply can’t cope with the amount of traffic flying into it because not only is too small, it’s also inadequate and in a shabby state. We can only hope that it will happen very soon because with a facelift, surely the economy would ultimately benefit a lot more, there’d be more jobs and Maun would thrive.
Source: The Botswana Guardian