Friday, February 1, 2013

■ BOTSWANA: Ethiopia, Botswana officially ink new BASA; Ethiopian Airlines to start ops in the near future?

BotswanaEthiopia has continued its push into southern Africa with the recent official signing of a new Bilateral Air Services Agreement with Botswana, paving the way for possible flights between Addis Ababa and Gaborone by Ethiopian Airlines. Negotiations were concluded in May 2012 following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in May 2010.

As part of bilateral discussions headed by Phandu Skelemani, Botswana's Minister for Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation and Dr. Tewdros Adhanom, Ethiopia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, the BASA was inked in Addis Ababa on Tuesday 29 February following the recently ended African Union Heads of State and Government Summit.

The BASA was signed by Minister Skelemani and Ethiopian Transport Minister Diriba Kuma.
"Diriba said signing of the agreement indicates commitment of the two countries to further intensify existing relations. He said the agreement will contribute to strengthening cultural relations between the two countries side by side with trade ties. Minister Phandu Skelemani also said the agreement will contribute towards growth of African air transport services."

Negotiations between Botswana/Ethiopia
Negotiations between Botswana/Ethiopia (CAAB)
The BASA now gives Ethiopian Airlines added impetus to launch operations to the Botswana, and possibly Namibian, market; a niche that has performed well for competitors Kenya Airways (KQ) in recent months.

The relocation of diamond cabal De Beers’ International Sales, Aggregation and related functions from London to Gaborone by the end of 2013 coupled with Botswana's strong tourist market, make the country an enticing opportunity for Ethiopian, if only for the country's proximity to South Africa, and Johannesburg in particular, hub of South African Airways (SA).

The BASA will also likely bring added pressure to local carrier Air Botswana (BP), who have only just begun to expand regionally. Since the signing of a BASA between Ethiopia and Zambia in late 2012, Ethiopian has not wasted any time in exploiting its position with ET announcing additional flights between Addis Ababa and Lusaka, the launch of the Addis Ababa to Ndola route and the start of 5th Freedom flights on the Lusaka - Harare sector.