Minister of Transport and communications Nonofo Molefhi has welcomed and commended the introduction of South African Airlink which will be flying the Johannesburg-Maun route daily.
Speaking at the launch of the new route last week, Minister Molefhi said that his ministry will do whatever it takes to ensure the service is continued and expanded to general programme in place offered by Air Botswana and Kenyan Airways.
Airlink will initially operate the daily Maun-Johannesburg service using one of its 10 Embraer ERJ 135 37 seat regional jets but plan to increase capacity in line with market demand, such as capacity being provided by one of the 8 Avro RJ85 83 seat regional quad jets.
The flight schedule is such that it will depart Johannesburg at 11:45 and arrive in Maun at 13:45 hours and then leave Maun at 1400 hours and arrive in Johannesburg at 1540 hours every day.
Minister Molefhi said that the bilateral air service agreement between South Africa and Botswana will motivate Air Botswana to up its game and bring an improved service to its clients.
Airlink’s Managing Director Rodger Foster thanked South Africa and Botswana authorities for awarding and accepting Airlink’s designation on the route.
“The opening of the route is tremendously significant to the tourism industry as not only will it complement the incumbent carrier Air Botswana’s service but will also open up additional source markets to the globally renowned Okavango Delta destination.”
Foster said, adding that Airlink as a franchisee of South African Airways is able to interface seamlessly with SAA and its global Star Alliance partners’ network works.
According to Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA)’s web site, for the calendar 2012 to date, Airlink ranks as the top on time performing airline measured over the three main domestic ACSA airports( OR Tambo, CapeTown and Durban) with an average of 92.61 percent of its flights departing on time.
Airlink, the MD said, looks forward with enthusiasm to playing a role in the growth of the market to the benefit of all tourism product stakeholders. Speaking in an interview Acting Chief Executive Officer for HATAAB, Lily Rakorong welcomed the new route which she said will definitely be of benefit to many Batswana indirectly through tourism and other businesses.
“The route came at the right time because there has been a gap in the market for a long time and with liberalisation of space I hope there will be more routes coming up.” Rakorong noted.