MAPUTO, The Mozambique Civil Aviation Authority has launched a public tender for the allocation of domestic, regional and inter-continental routes and asked interested Mozambican and foreign airlines to apply for them in the wake of strong criticism of Mozambique Airlines (LAM) by many of its customers over flight delays and cancellations.

These criticisms were supported by President Filipe Nyusi, when he visited LAM on April 13 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.” the president commented.

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. 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 of Beira, Chimoio, Nampula, Tete, Lichinga and Pemba.

Clearly the IACM would 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 under-used. 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). 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 and included Nairobi, Dar-es-Salaam and Addis Ababa. Also included are routes which have never been flown before, such as Maputo to Mauritius, to Gaborone, 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.