- The national airliner, Air Botswana (AB), has reported net losses amounting to pula 4.6 million (euro 690,000) for the year ending 31 March. The figure represents a decline of 140 percent when compared to last year's earnings.
From its abridged income statement, the Batswana airliner incurred pula 66.5 million (euro 10.0 million) due to variable costs, while fixed costs amounted to pula 23.5 million (euro 3.6 million) from a revenue base of pula 136.8 million (euro 20.6 million).
The parastatal blamed the losses on lower revenue accumulation "and the effects of the variable costs which exceeded the anticipated levels."
Based on the previous financial year, the current level of variable costs saw a marked increase of about pula 10 million (euro 1.5 million) while fixed costs depreciated by about half a million pula.
Increased operating costs are attributed to number of factors, amongst others, frequent aircraft breakdowns, high jet fuel prices, general commodity price increases, increased airport and aeronautical charges in the domestic market as well market pressure on labour costs.
The other factor that pressurised earnings was the introduction of the Maun to Cape Town route and the addition of services to the Johannesburg-Maun route - both routes connecting Botswana's northern tourism centre of Maun (Okavango Delta) with major markets in neighbouring South Africa.
Despite the losses, the Batswana airliner reports that during the year it recorded a slight improvement in traffic volumes. It states that it received passengers amounting to 196,044 against 190,873 of last year.
The airliner says yields realised on the regional routes were significantly below those achieved in the past year and the adverse effects on revenues could not be offset by the increased traffic volumes achieved during the year.
The system-wide traffic was reported to be three (3) percent above the traffic volumes achieved in the previous year and by comparison to last year, the regional routes recorded a two (2) percent growth while domestic flights grew by 5 percent.
The route that recorded the highest traffic growth was the main tourist route from Johannesburg to Maun. That route grew by 28 percent for the year under review.
The Gaborone-Johannesburg route - connecting the capital of Botswana with South Africa's main city - recorded a decline of nine (9) percent because of intensified competition in the route from South African Express. To counter stiff competition, Air Botswana reveals that it has since increased the number of seats available on low fares.
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