MAPUTO– The Mozambique Civil Aviation Institute (IACM), the regulatory body for aviation in the country, has granted an operational certificate to Maputo International Airport.

The certificate is a document which guarantees to all countries that the airport is operating within the internationally recognized standards to receive flights from any part of the world.

Even without the certificate, Maputo airport had been receiving flights from such international airlines as Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish airlines and TAP-Air Portugal. However, the insurance costs paid by the airlines are larger when the airports they fly to are not certified.

A team from the IACM had been working at the airport for three years, and during this time the runway and the apron had been completely rehabilitated.

At the Monday ceremony, Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita said there are clear signs that aviation in Mozambique is growing . Otherwise these great air companies would not be here. We have a long list of international companies who want to use our airport,” he added.

Mesquita noted that it is important to stimulate the aviation sector and make it more competitive, bearing in mind the tourism potential and diversity the country possesses. He wants to ensure that Mozambique is on the list of the main destinations at regional and continental level.

Ironically, the only other Mozambican airport that is already certified is Nacala International Airport, in the north of the country. Certification has made no difference to the fact that no international airline wants to fly to Nacala. The only flights to Nacala are by LAM (Mozambique Airlines), which flies from Maputo to Nacala twice a week.

The airport, inaugurated by former President Armando Guebuza in 2014, was not preceded by any serious viability study to establish whether there was a demand for flights to Nacala. It was built by the Brazilian company company, Odebrecht, and Brazilian prosecutors have established that Odebrecht paid a bribe of 900,000 US dollars, presumably in connection with the airport. The Mozambican recipients of this bribe have not yet been named.