Covid-19 Cleared The Skies Of Flights

Statistics Botswana reports drop of 99.1% in international air travel and 97% in domestic air travel in Q2 2020


In July, the General Manager of Air Botswana, Agnes Khunwana, expressed joy after government ‘unclipped’ the wings of the national airline, but it was never business as usual as only domestic flights were allowed.

When COVID-19 hit this country in March, government immediately closed Botswana’s airways and overland borders in an effort contain the damnable pandemic. Statistics Botswana soon recorded a decline of 99.1 percent in international passenger movement while domestic air travel dropped by 97.0 percent in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the first quarter of the same year.

A total of 1,388 aircraft movements were recorded of which 80.8 percent were domestic and 19.2 percent were international movements in the second quarter. Total aircraft movements recorded a massive decline of 89.2 percent compared to the previous quarter, a decrease that was realised in both domestic and international movements by 88.2 percent and 92.2 percent respectively.

According to the government data agency, compared to the same quarter of the previous year, Q2 2019, the quarter under review experienced a downfall in total aircraft movements by 93.6 percent while international and domestic movements declined by 94.5 percent and 93.4 percent respectively.

In the latest report, Statistics Botswana categorised Air Botswana and other commercial airlines under “Scheduled Aircraft Movements” which refers to commercial airlines operating on a time table while “Non-Scheduled Aircraft Movements” refers to commercial aircraft that do not have to operate using a time table but operate as and when needed.

There is also “Private Aircraft Movements” for non-commercial individual aircraft and “Scenic Aircraft movements” which are used mostly by Ministry of Tourism for airlines that focus on wildlife and surrounding natures. “In Q2 2020, only one scheduled aircraft movement was recorded which was just 0.1 percent of the total aircraft movements for that quarter,” Statistician General Burton Mguni says.

“The percentage distribution for the rest of the flight types is as follows: 89.1 percent (non-scheduled), 7.7 percent (private) and 3.1 (scenic). All the flight types recorded a decline in the number of movements: scheduled movements dropped by nearly a 100 percent, non-scheduled movements went down by 84.4 percent while private and scenic movements declined by 80.0 percent and 95.6 percent respectively,” the reports says.

According to Statistics Botswana, Maun Airport had the highest number of aircraft movements, accounting for 55.7 percent of total aircraft movements in Q2 2020. The majority of these movements were recorded in the month of June (39.2 percent). Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA) followed with 32.6 percent most of its flights also during the month of June.

Francistown and Kasane accounted for 7.3 percent and 2.4 percent of total aircraft movements respectively. Ghanzi and Selebi-Phikwe trailed behind with 1.4 and 0.6 percent of total aircraft movements respectively. The month of June, with 45.0 percent of the total, registered most of the aircraft movements. May followed with 31.5 percent while the remaining 23.5 percent was recorded in April.

When the borders and the skies were closed, Maun Airport had the highest number of domestic aircraft movements, accounting for 65.9 percent of total domestic aircraft movements. SSKIA recorded the highest number of international aircraft movements with 81.3 percent of total international aircraft movements.