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Only four of the seven passenger aircraft of Mozambique Airlines (LAM) are currently operational, LAM officials told Deputy Transport Minister Manuela Rebelo when she visited the company’s headquarters on Wednesday.
The other three planes are grounded for various technical problems, but the LAM technical director, Pascoal Bernardo, assured reporters that the necessary spare parts have been ordered from the manufacturers.
Once the parts arrive, he said, the repairs will be made and the planes will be in the air again. There was nothing abnormal about this. “The budget for the parts in question is within the contract we have with the supplier”, Bernardo added, “and within two days we shall receive the parts”.
Rui Macaringue, the head of LAM maintenance, said that after the parts had arrived, it would take two or three days to repair the planes, and then they could take to the skies again.
Using four planes rather than seven to serve its domestic and regional routes, LAM has been unable to honour its timetable, and in recent days several of its domestic flights have been cancelled, much to the annoyance of passengers.
After discussions with the LAM management, Rebelo told reporters it was positive that the company grounded planes with technical problems. “If the equipment, even in the smallest detail, is not airworthy, then it is important that the plane should stay on the ground”, she said. “It is first important to solve the problem to guarantee that the passengers travel in safety. Safety must come first”.
Critics of LAM have frequently accused the government of protecting LAM by refusing to allow competition on the domestic routes. Rebelo denied this, and claimed that Mozambican airspace is open to other companies. But none of LAM’s would-be competitors has yet met the conditions for operating flights in Mozambican airspace.
“It is important that the companies interested in operating in Mozambique should come here, register and meet the requirements”, she said.
Joao de Abreu, the chairperson of the regulator body, the Mozambique Civil Aviation Institute (IACM) said companies interested in flying Mozambican routes want the government to grant them facilities, but refused to obey Mozambican norms.
Thus the Nigerian company Fly Africa had applied for authorisation to fly Mozambican routes, but the application ground to a halt “because they couldn’t show us where their office is, what hangers they are going to use, the people who will maintain the planes, their pilots, among other matters”.
“You can’t just come here and have no offices, and nowhere to maintain your equipment”, exclaimed Abreu. “Aviation is not a hobby. Aviation is treated professionally and by professionals”.Source: AIM