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Maun International Airport Botswana aviation hub

Government took a deliberate decision a few years ago to upgrade airport facilities around the country, and engaged in simultaneous projects at Sir Seretse Khama, Francistown and Kasane and lately Ghanzi and Selebi Phikwe international airports to facilitate easy air access into the country.

Maun International Airport, which has a rich aviation history given the tourism industry which accounts for the majority of landing and take-offs,  is being upgraded through phases, having undergone two phases so far that have been completed.

The first and second phases saw upgrading of airside works and airport services area being completed.

Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB), which oversees aviation facilities in the country, says progress of this ambitious project that will position the North West District ahead in the region in terms of air access.

CAAB public affairs manager, Modipe Nkwe says in terms of aircraft movement, Maun airport is second after Cape Town International Airport in the southern African region.

Nkwe reckons that most traffic into and out of Maun consists of light aircraft coming in from and into the delta. He says the aircraft runway has been designed to take an equivalent of B737 aircraft, noting that the terminal building capacity receives 169 international arrivals and departures per peak hour; 66 domestic arrivals and departures per peak hour and 147 non-scheduled flights per peak hour.

Nkwe also mentions the amount of air traffic (landings and take offs) per annum as follows: in 2012, they had 23 856 landings, 23 853 departures and 229 651 passengers while in 2013, landings were 26 511, departures 26 394 and 238 339 passengers. In 2014, statistics were as follows: 24 864 landings, 24 870 departures and 234 896 passengers.

One would say it is no accident that Maun airport is one of the busiest in southern Africa, and a major hub for pre-booked itineraries where people come and go with brief stopovers between flights.

This is mainly due to various light aircraft flights into the Delta.

Regarding expansion of the airport, Nkwe reckons that traffic into and out of the airport determines construction, expansion and development of airport facilities.

“Major traffic into and out of Maun is tourist traffic, be it domestic traffic or international traffic. That traffic is largely tourist traffic,” he adds.

Currently, the project is in phase three which involves air traffic control tower and technical block.

The project commenced on January 12 and is expected to be completed by January 13, 2016. Nkwe says the tower building stands at 19 per cent complete as of June 16.

He also states that phase four of the project will cover upgrading of the new terminal building. At the moment, he says, the project is at design stage but designs are not yet finalised, adding that once awarded, construction is expected to take three and half years. The runway length will be 3.7km.

Meanwhile, the airport is located about 5km from the town centre and has basic facilities including check-in desks, toilets, seating areas and a café.

Majority of the buildings close to the airport are owned by safari companies and serve thousands of tourists who use the airport when they visit Botswana. The airport is housed in a double storey building and upstairs is a restaurant, post office and safari companies that offer scenic flights over the Okavango Delta.

However, as one connects between flights at Maun Airport he/she would probably be unaware of the complex web of air charter arrangements in place at this tiny African hub.

On the ground floor, there is an information kiosk run by Botswana Tourism Board. If someone wants to rent a car, find accommodation or tourist information, it is easy to do so while at the airport.

Outside the airport, there is an awesome restaurant opposite, where one can have a bit of time. The restaurant offers delicious and a variety of beverages. It is a perfect place to refresh while waiting for your connecting flight. Ends

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