The Government of Botswana has not relented in its plans to privatize ailing national carrier Air Botswana (BP, Gaborone) despite repeated failed attempts, the last being in 2017.

At the time, Gaborone had secured several Expressions of Interest (EOI) from investors from around the world before settling on local safari operator, Wilderness Safaris, as the preferred bidder. However, the firm subsequently withdrew its proposal without specifying any reasons.

Despite the setback, Minister of Transport and Communications Kitso Mokaila told the country's parliament on Thursday, March 8, that if the state is to successfully wean the loss-making carrier off its dependency on the national fiscus, then several steps would have to be taken the most pressing of which is to increase the airline's overall intrinsic value. Doing so, he said, would render Air Botswana a more operationally efficient airline that will be valuable and attractive to potential investors.

“Among these [actions] is to implement a fleet renewal plan, which will see the airline acquire new aircraft,” he was quoted by the Botswana Press Agency (BOPA).

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communication, Kabelo Ebineng, later confirmed that Air Botswana would replace its current all-Avions de Transport Régional fleet of three ATR42-500s (averaging 21.7 years of age) and one ATR72-500 (9.9 years of age) with two ATR72-600s as well as an unspecified 100-seater jet.

The airline currently caters to the country's buoyant tourism industry as well as its growing business travel niche. To that end, it connects its Gaborone base with Francistown, Kasane, and Maun domestically and with Johannesburg O.R. Tambo and Cape Town (suspended as a result of ACMI partner CemAir's recent regulatory woes) in South Africa.

Mokaila said Air Botswana would consider different operating models once "it is able to optimally and successfully operate its current model."