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The general manager of Mozambique Airlines (LAM), Joao Carlos Jorge, on Friday declared that the company is ready to compete with Ethiopian Airlines on Mozambican domestic routes.
Ethiopian has set up a Mozambican subsidiary, Ethiopian Mozambique Airlines, which will begin flying on 1 December. It plans to serve Maputo, Nampula, Tete, Pemba, Beira, Nacala, Quelimane and Chimoio.
A press release from the new company declared that it “will promote necessary and better air connections in Mozambique, and to and from Mozambique”.
Tewolde Gebremariam, the Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, said “The launch of Ethiopian Mozambique Airlines is part of our strategic vision for multiple hubs in Africa, and to increase air connections in our vast continent in order to support its socio-economic transformations”.
He promised that the travelling public in Mozambique “will enjoy safe, reliable, accessible and convenient connections”.
The CEO of Ethiopian Mozambique Airlines, Redi Yesuf, said the company would gradually introduce three hubs in northern, central and southern Mozambique. “Mozambique is a very large country, and it deserves strong options of air connections as an alternative to land transport”, he said.
The Mozambican authorities have liberalised the aviation market, abolishing the effective monopoly on domestic routes that LAM once enjoyed. In September 2017, the regulatory body, the Mozambique Civil Aviation Institute (IACM), authorised seven foreign companies, and five Mozambican companies to fly the domestic routes. The first to offer competition with LAM was the UK-based company Fastjet, and Ethiopian Airlines will be the second.
Joao Jorge was confident that LAM can cope with the competition. He said that LAM has greatly improved its services and in October 90 per cent of its flights were on time.
“There were difficulties up until July”, he said. “It was necessary to re-programme flights and there were some cancellations. But as from the third week of August we began to fight for improvements.” The performance was better in September and in October 90 per cent of LAM flights were on time.
The European Union had taken Mozambique off the black list of countries whose air companies are not allowed to fly in European airspace, LAM had all the necessary certifications “and there is every reason for clients to fly with us”, declared Joao Jorge, “and that’s beginning to happen with the case, for example, of the petroleum logistics companies”.
Jorge said LAM is gradually clearing a debt of 230 million meticais (about 3.77 million US dollars) to the banks and to its suppliers, but it must still pay for its fuel immediately, and cannot run up fuel bills.
Ethiopian has not yet announced a timetable for its Mozambican flights, or how much tickets will cost.
The LAM trade union committee has protested against the entry of Ethiopian Airlines into the Mozambican market. In a statement issued on Friday it claimed that it is illegal to licence the company to fly domestic outs, and that this is an attack on “national sovereignty”.
The union’s protest comes very late – since Ethiopian Airlines was authorised to fly inside Mozambique in September 2017.
The union statement claimed, quite untruthfully, that this is the only case in the world where a foreign airline is allowed to fly between two cities in a different country. It added that the new company will only be interested in making a profit, and this would amount to “looting our national resources”. It would not serve the interests of the Mozambican economy, but was part of a “plan of predatory expansion” to strengthen the Ethiopian economy.
The union demanded respect for Mozambican law, the safeguarding of national interests and the protection of jobs at LAM.Source: AIM
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