Six aircraft belonging to different airlines had to be diverted to Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA) on Monday evening due to bad weather at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. The planes, which were of various sizes, had to refuel at SSKIA while they awaited the improvement of the weather in Johannesburg 276 kilometres away by air but 400 kilometres away by road.
Said Modipe Nkwe, the Public Affairs Manager at Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana: "The flights were diverted to SSKIA due to bad weather in Johannesburg. This is a normal operational procedure in cases where flights cannot land at their planned destinations for whatever reason.
"They will land or be diverted to an alternative airport. In most cases, such as this one, the diversions are weather related. While on the ground, the aircraft will refuel and later proceed to land at the planned destination when the weather improves." He added that in such situations, the on-board passengers remain in their seats.
There are 20 flights between Gaborone and South Africa on a daily basis, the shortest being Johannesburg, which takes only 45 minutes.
The Ministry of Transport has been holding talks with other airlines to open routes between Gaborone and other destinations but very few have opened so far.