Maputo — Emirates Airlines will begin scheduled flights to Mozambique in June, according to the chairperson of the Mozambican Civil Aviation Institute (IACM), Joao de Abreu.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, after a visit to the IACM by the new Transport Minister, Janfar Abdulai, Abreu said the go-ahead for Emirates flights to Maputo had been given after the company had completed a commercial viability study.
Abreu said that Emirates plans to fly from Dubai to the Botswana capital, Gaborone, via Maputo.
"They have already asked us for authorisation to start operations in Mozambique", he added. "We sent them the requirements and the documents that must be presented, and we're waiting for them to reply".
"Emirates is one of the 20 largest airlines in the world, in terms of its fleet, its revenue, and the number of passengers", said Abreu. "It has become the largest airline in the Middle East".
Abreu told the reporters that Egypt Air has also expressed an interest in flying to Mozambique. He did not say what type of plane either of these airlines would use, or how many flights a week they plan to operate.
Abdulai said that the main challenge for the civil aviation sector to meet in the coming period is the licensing and certification of Mozambican airports. Currently only two of the country's international airports, in Maputo and Nacala, are certified, and Beira international airport is in the final phase of certification.
Abreu also denied recent claims that there has been a dramatic increase in domestic air fares. The reality was that, in general, fares have fallen. The cost of a flight from Maputo to Pemba had once been 32,000 meticais (about 504 US dollars), but today that ticket can be purchased for 14.500 meticais.
Abreu pointed out that tickets are cheaper if they are bought well in advance of the flight, but will be much more expensive if the passenger pays on the day he intends to travel.