The Aviation Authority Botswana (CAAB), it is alleged, wants to postpone employee June salaries indefinitely and cut pay by the end of June due to lack of funds on account of lack business amid Covid-19.
It is feared this may drive employees to down tools posing a security threat to the aviation industry.Government last week confirmed being aware of a statement by the Botswana Public Employees BOPEU that CAAB may postpone the payment of their staff salaries due to lack of funds currently circulating but denied any knowledge of postponement of salaries due to lack of funds.Information reaching this publication is that government no longer has money for rescue packages and currently the CAAB board is tasked with bringing the authority into a healthy financial situation.
TThe main focus of government at the moment is said to be to rationalize expenditure levels and strengthen the health sector in order to curb the spread off the pandemic. As a result government is reportedly not in a position to provide rescue packages to any entity. Should in the unfortunate event that employees embark on a strike action, this will destabilize the aviation industry and make the country unattractive for other airlines to fly into.
Apparently, the CAAB had initially requested for funds beyond government subventions to sustain itself.The Minister of Transport and Communications Thulagano Segokgo on Friday confirmed that CAAB is looking at various strategies to address the current operational costs in the midst of the prevailing economic meltdown caused by the outbreak of Covid 19 pandemic which has seriously affected the aviation cash flow in general and Botswana in particular.Further quizzed on the financial situation at CAAB, and also its impact on the economy going forward, Segokgo admitted that the ministry is aware of the organization’s financial position and he added that they his ministry has asked the CAAB to come up with measures to curtail operational costs.
“We are working closely with CAAB to see how CAAB can be assisted during this difficult period,” said Segokgo.
He also admitted that skies will be unsafe adding that critically important flights will not be facilitated. He stated that CAAB facilitates medical evacuation flights and cargo flights adding that if the employees were to go on strike none of the flights will be possible and that everything will come to a standstill. He further stated that CAAB is engaging with staff and staff representatives to apprise them of the situation and find a mutually beneficial solution to the issue.
“Aviation facilitates other sectors of the economy and without which other sectors like tourism will be hard hit,” said Segokgo.
He further stated that CAAB generates revenue from services it provides to air operations and added that the revenue streams include over flight fees, landing fees, parking fees and passenger charges. Segokgo said as airline have suspended their operations CAAB’s revenue has declined by approximately 98 percent.
It is currently not clear how much money is being owed to the CAAB despite the loss of revenue since Covid 19 outbreak and movement of flight as there were no skies payments to the authority.