Air Botswana Privatisation

Botswana is attempting to privatise struggling national carrier Air Botswana, and has invited expressions of interest from the market. A five-year turnaround strategy has seen the carrier cut unprofitable routes to Harare and Lusaka and laying off staff, reducing losses to $8 million in 2016. Another 100 staff are due to be cut this year. South Africa’s Comair indicated it would make a submission, with its CEO Erik Venter saying the company wants equity in and control over the airline and would explore a management contract. If successful, Comair may move some of the airline’s services to South Africa. Previous attempts at privatising Air Botswana came to nothing, but Comair has capital available to invest in the airline, having posted a ZAR 199 million profit for the second half of 2016 and in February it was awarded ZAR 1 billion by a court in an anticompetitive behaviour dispute with South African Airways. Guy Martin

Arik Air Takeover

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has taken over Arik Air. The takeover was implemented to prevent the collapse of Nigeria’s airline sector and the loss of 3,000 jobs; Arik Air accounts for over half of Nigerian passenger traffic. Crippling debt had left the carrier unable to pay salaries and aircraft leases and the financial woes have seen thousands of flights delayed and cancelled. Arik Air owes the International Air Transport Association $78 million, for example, and AMCON says the airline has $940 million of debt. AMCON said that of Arik’s fleet of two A330-200s, nine 737-700s, four 737-800s, four CRJ900s, one CRJ-1000, and four Dash 8 Q400s, only ten are commercially serviceable. It indicated it does not want to liquidate the airline but hopes to turn it around and add five aircraft to the fleet.

Guy Martin

Winglets for the A380?

Airbus is reportedly considering adding winglets and between 40 and 50 more seats to the A380. Reuters cited unnamed sources saying the potential changes, dubbed ‘A380 Plus’, could improve the type’s fuel efficiency by 2%. The modernisation could lead to the replacement of the A380’s grand staircase in the forward fuselage by a more compact staircase, the report said. Airbus declined to comment on the detail of the report. Its latest figures say the global fleet of A380s (208 aircraft as of early March) now undertake 2,000 flights a week to Data covers orders an nounced February 4-March 6. Compiled by Mark Broadbent 55 destinations.

Mark Broadbent