A South African consultant called in by the Mozambican government to manage Mozambique Airlines (LAM) acknowledged this Thursday, 14 September, that customers owed the flag carrier 1.2 billion meticals in June, including Frelimo, the ruling party.
South Africa’s Fly Modern Ark (FMA) was called in to manage LAM in April, in view of the company’s financial situation, and the board of directors admitted yesterday at a meeting with journalists in Maputo that they had found debts initially totalling 1.7 billion meticais.
“In the meantime, collections, debt payment plans and reconciliation of accounts have been made,” Zita Joaquim, who is responsible for financial and accounting administration in the management of FMA at LAM, explained at the same meeting, admitting that the debts are owed to public and private companies, ministries, the armed forces, public institutions and others.
When questioned by journalists, she admitted that one company alone, which she did not identify, owed the airline almost 50 million meticais.
In the case of Frelimo, the ruling party, the source recognised that “it is one of the entities that is not on the list of credit flights”, given an initial debt of 22 million meticais, of which it has since paid five million meticais, although recognising that this is also a problem for the airline, as it has allowed these arrears to accumulate.
“But the list of entities is long,” stressed Zita Joaquim, admitting that since June other amounts have been settled, but preferring not to reveal the current amount owed, not least because they have also found proven cases of payments made by clients that were not settled in the company’s accounts and which have yet to be ascertained.
The FMA took over management of the state-owned airline in April and recognised that LAM had an estimated debt of around 300 million dollars, according to figures provided at the time.
The ongoing strategy to revitalise the company follows years of operational problems related to a reduced fleet and a lack of investment, with some incidents, not fatal, linked by experts to inefficient aircraft maintenance.