The Mozambican Minister of Transport and Communications, Mateus Magala, admits that the announcement of the return of the Mozambican state-owned airline LAM to flights to Lisbon is already reflected in prices, and he advocates greater ease in the granting of visas by Portugal.
“I’m very happy that this has happened, because it’s the people who win. Exactly that, the consumer. So prices can’t be a mechanism to separate people, to exclude people from opportunities,” said the minister, admitting that LAM’s announcement of a return to direct flights between Maputo and Lisbon from December has already led Portuguese airline TAP to lower fares on the same routes.
“I’m happy that TAP has done this, because it will lead to competition. We want to be competitive, we don’t want to be monopolists, we don’t want to be favoured by protectionism. So I think LAM is going to stand up and have a respectable fight and we’re going to position ourselves in this market, offer quality services and greater security for consumers,” said Mateus Magala.
At the end of last month, state-owned carrier Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique (LAM) announced that it will resume its service between Maputo and Lisbon from 12 December, two years after it was interrupted.
LAM and TAP are now the only two airlines providing direct flights between Maputo and Lisbon.
For Minister Magala, making it easier to issue visas for Mozambicans, as is the case in Mozambique for Portuguese citizens, is the next necessary step.
“We will continue to work with the Portuguese authorities. To say that the world is becoming a common village and the easiest starting point for building this common village is where there is some historical, cultural, linguistic, economic and other relationship. And Portugal and Mozambique already have hundreds of years of history,” he said.
“To continue to have these kinds of barriers to travelling is unsustainable. So I think that common sense will prevail and we’ll have open borders for Mozambicans, as we do for the Portuguese,” he added.
According to the announcement made by LAM on 30 October, the flights, starting at 25,000 meticais (368 euros) in economy class, will be operated by a Boeing 777, with 302 seats, which will connect the two capitals three times a week, following a partnership with a Portuguese air operator.
The Mozambican carrier explained that the Maputo-Lisbon route is part of the operator’s revitalisation plan, after the South African company Fly Modern Ark (FMA) took over the management of LAM in April this year, called in by the government.
“It’s an extraordinary step forward. And also the occupancy, the level of passengers travelling on our lines has increased significantly. And this is welcome,” recognised the Minister of Transport and Communications about the management of LAM by the FMA, which has already activated six national and four international routes, including Lisbon.
The aim, he pointed out, is to turn LAM into a “respected” company: “We’re not there yet, but the steps that have been taken since April are to be commended. I think the transformation, the change, is going in the direction we would like to see.”
Minister Mateus Magala was in Blantyre, Malawi, on Thursday for a meeting with his counterpart Jacob Hara, during which he signed an agreement on air transport between the two countries, which will allow the state companies of both countries to go ahead with regular flights.
“This creates more economic space and more space for tourism and other opportunities. It’s extraordinary news that we will soon have flights from both countries benefiting the population (…) Later this year. My ambition is for it to be this year,” he concluded.