LAM seeks investment partner
Maputo – Mozambique’s flag carrier, Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique (LAM), is hunting for an international partner with which to create a separate intercontinental airline, says the state-owned company's chief executive Marlene Manave.
Manave says the airline faces major challenges to meet even its internal demand and cannot expand without an investor.
“If we were to resume inter-continental flights, we would lose money for two or three years.
“The government wants to see the Mozambican flag out there as soon as possible, but we have said we need five to 10 years before we are ready, hence the idea of finding a financially steady partner,” Manave explains.
Owned by the government, apart from a four percent shareholding distributed among its 700 staff members, LAM operates flights to 10 domestic and five regional destinations.
It has plans for routes to the Seychelles and Ethiopia.
The European Union banned LAM from entering its airspace due to safety concerns in April 2011, and the company shifted focus to regional routes.
Manave says the ban was due to “civil aviation deficiencies which continue to be a challenge”.
Now LAM hopes to cover all Southern African capitals by 2017. Manave explains that the company has seen remarkable growth recently, with the volume of business increasing from US$100 million in 2009 to US$157m last year.
LAM is eying flights to Blantyre and Lilongwe (Malawi), and Cape Town and Durban (South Africa) next year, while also covering the Mozambican cities of Tete and Nampula.
Flights to Windhoek are also being planned.
In addition, LAM is considering launching intercontinental flights to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil in 2016 or 2017.
According to Manave, LAM is working hard to remove Mozambique from the list of airlines banned from flying in EU airspace.
The first target is to have the company listed in the EU’s aviation schedule “Annex B”, which allows airlines to operate only certain types of craft in its airspace.
During a recent visit to LAM’s headquarters, Mozambique’s Prime Minister, Alberto Vaquina, expressed satisfaction with the airline’s progress and performance.
He was impressed by the company’s aspirations for fleet expansion and said the need for investment should be properly addressed.
The PM was also pleased that Mozambique had technicians with the skills to ensure aircraft are properly maintained.
Enter Malawian Airlines
• Charles Mkula
Air Malawi has entered a partnership with Ethiopian Airlines and will now operate as Malawian Airlines Limited.
This follows protracted talks between the two parties to resuscitate Malawi’s troubled national carrier.
“I'm pleased to announce that the deal is now settled,” said Malawi’s Public Private Partnership Commission chief executive Jimmy Lipunga in Blantyre recently.
“Ethiopian Airlines has agreed jointly with the Malawi government to change the airline's name to Malawian Airlines Limited.”
Lipunga said Malawi will have 51 percent stake in the new carrier, with Ethiopian Airlines holding the balance. Of Malawi’s majority shareholding, 31 percent will be issued to Malawians.
According to Lipunga, US$20 million will be injected in the new company to recapitalise it. Ethiopian Airlines has also promised to bring in two new craft.
Air Malawi’s fortunes had plummeted to the extent that there was no flight connection between the two major cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre. The hope is that the new venture will result in a return of local and international routes in the near future.