The Board of Directors of Mozambique Airlines (LAM) has dismissed the operations, technical and commercial directors, citing the ongoing restructuring of the state-owned airline, the need to “create greater dynamism” and promote “continuous improvement”.
According to two service orders to which Lusa has had access, the decision was taken today at an extraordinary meeting of the Board of Directors, and with immediate effect Hilário Tembe, operations director, was removed, replaced by Alexandre Barradas, Pascoal Bernardo, technical director, replaced by Agira Nhabanga, and Maria Luísa Ferreira, commercial director, replaced by Firmino Naftal.
The South African company Fly Modern Ark (FMA) took over the management of LAM in April, moving ahead with a process to revitalise the Mozambican state-owned airline.
The Mozambican Minister of Transport and Communications, Mateus Magala, previously said that the aim of this management 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,” said Magala.
The executive director of the FMA, Theunis Crous, said on 14 September that he had found “situations of corruption” at LAM, the provision of services above market value and others without contracts, holding the directors responsible.
“They ran the company the way they wanted,” said Crous at a meeting with journalists in Maputo, refusing to reveal whether or not these cases had been reported to the competent authorities, such as the Attorney General’s Office.
Theunis Crous said, however, that the FMA was preparing an “exhaustive report” on these practices and that some of these directors remain in the company and have shown “resistance to change”.
He even described some of these people as having “brought the company down”.
In April, severe financial difficulties led the government to place the Mozambican flag carrier under the management of the FMA.
Among other situations revealed by Theunis Crous is an alleged increase in remuneration decided by the then administration, for the administrators themselves, approved last January, of 100,000 meticais (1,468 euros) per month, “when the government was looking for a solution for the management” of LAM.
“We immediately stopped this,” he said, guaranteeing that these directors were asked to return the payments received from January to May.
The manager added that they found cases of aircraft being chartered for much more than the market value, services provided to LAM that, in addition to high prices, didn’t offer quality, such as catering, and others paid for without invoicing or contracts.
“When we arrived, a Boeing had been in Johannesburg for seven months undergoing repairs that should have been done in 30 days,” he said, demanding responsibility but guaranteeing that LAM is viable.
“The company’s greatest asset is the loyalty of Mozambicans to the LAM brand, who always come back despite the problems,” admitted Theunis Crous.