Maputo — The Mozambique Civil Aviation Authority, the aviation regulatory body, on Tuesday launched a public tender for the allocation of domestic, regional and intercontinental routes, and asked interested Mozambican and foreign companies to apply for them.
This follows strong criticism of LAM (Mozambique Airlines) by many of its customers over flight delays and cancellations - criticism that was supported by President Filipe Nyusi, when he visited LAM on 13 April, and later that day addressed an extraordinary meeting of the Consultative Council of the Transport Ministry.
Nyusi also called for competition in civil aviation, and claimed there are senior figures in the Transport Ministry “who find it difficult to let the competition flow. We don't have planes flying, but we don't let others fly. We say that our airspace is open, but we don't say what this means”.
He urged the IACM to take a flexible approach to the entry of new companies into the domestic market. “You are closing the circuit so that things operate as they did in the past”, he accused. “The problems of transport result from this closure”.
The routes covered by the tender include virtually every conceivable domestic route, whether currently flown by LAM or not. If other companies respond to the tender and are accepted, LAM would face competition on its routes from Maputo to the main central and northern cities (Beira, Chimoio, Nampula, Tete, Lichinga and Pemba).
Clearly the IACM would dearly like to attract other companies to use Nacala International Airport on the northern coast. This airport, inaugurated three years ago, is the most modern in the country and the most underused. The only airline using Nacala is LAM for flights to and from Maputo. So the routes proposed in the tender include from Nacala to virtually every other provincial capital.
The tender also covers new routes from small airports such as Inhambane and Chimoio to cities which currently cannot be reached without changing planes.
The regional routes in the tender exclude LAM's most profitable route, which is Maputo-Johannesburg, operated in an arrangement with South African Airlines (SAA). But other South African destinations are covered, included Lanseria (north-west of Johannesburg), Cape Town and Durban.
Other regional routes currently flown by LAM (but sometimes operated by other airlines) are included in the tender (to Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Addis Ababa). So are routes that have never been flown before, such as Maputo to Mauritius, to Gaberone, to Zanzibar or to Mombasa.
The international routes include Maputo to Doha (currently flown by Qatar Airways) and to Istanbul (currently flown by Turkish Airways), but most of the proposed routes are entirely new, including such destinations as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Singapore and Hanoi.
The IACM also suggests routes from Nacala to destinations in South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi, and also to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Other intercontinental flights never flown before include Beira, Tete, Nampula and Pemba to Doha, and Nampula to Istanbul and Ankara. New regional routes proposed include Nampula to Mauritius, Beira to Mombasa and Pemba to Gaberone.
Airlines applying for these routes must hold a licence issued by the IACM. They must have a sales code approved by the IACM, and their flights must be included in an integrated reserves and sales system.
They must prove that they have the financial capacity to operate the flights, and present an economic viability study. Preference will be given to companies that have been operating on the national and international market for more than two years.
Companies have 30 days, as from Tuesday, to send their applications for the routes to the IACM.