The national airline- Air Botswana, is beginning to feel the devastating financial impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Air Botswana bosses are now thinking of putting some of its employees on forced leave and if push comes to shove employees will receive salary cuts. In a letter written by management to staff dated 18 March, 2020 headlined- Business impact of COVID -19 on the operations of Air Botswana, the management team explains that Air Botswana has reviewed sales trends since February 2020 and compared sales returns with the same period last year.
The letter notes that the variations between February 2019 and February 2020 sales proceeds were insignificant with a drop of P300 000.00, as cancellations were mostly limited to China which did not have a huge impact on Air Botswana as the overall passenger numbers to and from China are small in comparison to Europe and the Middle East.
However, the situation for March is more along global trends, primarily owing to cancellations or postponement of travel by businesses, the Government sector and traders as both Europe and the Middle East felt the impact of the virus. “In the first two weeks of March 2020, the drop-in sales stood at P5.5 million, representing a 32 percent contraction,” reads the letter. The decline in sales volumes in subsequent days, following the announcements made by South Africa, has significantly accelerated and the level of business contraction for the month is expected to be as high as 60 percent, reads the letter.
This has prompted the Air Botswana management to implement a few measures to minimize the impact of COVID-19. Staff leave levels have been reviewed and mandatory regulated leave conditions will be enforced to reduce accumulated leave. Air Botswana staff would be required to take compulsory leave from Monday 23rd March. “This would address social distancing as well as reduce leave liability,” reads the letter. Catering on all routes has been suspended with immediate effect.
Air Botswana will monitor the situation and if ti does not improve staff may be required to take “unpaid leave or even receive lower salaries.”