Many companies have professed an interest in Mozambique’s domestic air market, but they have all given up in the end. Why, no one knows. But the Civil Aviation Institute of Mozambique (IACM) thinks that perhaps the market is not so attractive.
The Mozambican Civil Aviation Institute (IACM) this week launched a public tender for the allocation of domestic, regional and intercontinental air routes, at a time when the country is experiencing a crisis in the passenger air transport sector. DW Africa talked with IACM spokesman Francisco Cabo.
DW Africa: Is this tender being launched a response to the parlous state of Mozambique’s air transport services, and in this sense the result of President Filipe Nyusi visit to LAM, or is it just normal IACM procedure?
Francisco Cabo (FC): This is a normal procedure. The Civil Aviation Institute of Mozambique (IACM) regularly launches these competitions so that national and international operators can compete to offer, within their capacities, their services on the routes that are established.
DW Africa: There have been companies in the past which have expressed an interest in operating domestically, for some years. What has prevented the entry of these operators into the Mozambique market?
FC: From a legal point of view, nothing. We have received requests from operators to operate in the domestic market. It must be taken into account that in the Republic of Mozambique we have 17 licensed operators. The fact is that most of these operators have targeted the charter segment.
Another reason is the International Civil Aviation Organization’s internationally defined standards, with five certification phases that all operators have to go through in order to start operating in Mozambique. Not long ago, we had two companies in the certification process, one of which completed all the phases then decided not to do go into operation after all.
DW Africa: What were the reasons for this last minute change of heart?
FC: No official reason was presented to the IACM. We assume that there were reasons related to the airline itself. We have not received any notification.
DW Africa: It is quite ridiculous that many Mozambicans go to South Africa first, in order to reach Nampula in their own country, using international airlines such as South African Airways.
FC: Yes, but we have to look at conditions in our market. For example, Mozambique is on the European Union’s blacklist. So what you mention has to do with this specific situation that we are experiencing. Large companies setting up in Mozambique end up creating these situations by barring their workers using national airlines, so we have this situation.
DW Africa: Is the Mozambican air market attractive enough to arouse interest from international air operators?
FC: You have to look first at the structure of the market. We are talking about a country where we have approximately 24 million people. Of those, how many actually travel by plane? From the domestic point of view, only about 600,000 people a year. This is less than that in the South African market. So our analysis of this issue must begin there. Why do we not have large companies operating on domestic flights? Perhaps there is not so much the attractiveness of a very big market. The air transport market in Mozambique is not as elastic as it may seem.