Government calls for certification of airports

The Mozambican government on Tuesday urged the publicly owned airports company, ADM, to pay attention to the certification of the country’s airports and aerodromes so as comply fully with the minimum standards of safety required in international regulations.

Speaking at the opening of a national meeting on ADM’s activities in 2011, the Permanent Secretary in the Transport Ministry, Pedro Ingles, said that the regulatory agency, the Mozambique Civil Aviation Institute (IACM), is already working to certify the airports, and 2012 would be a decisive year.

“The certification of the airports remains the most important task”, Ingles declared. “We have to guarantee that all operators provide their services in line with the minimum standards of operational safety, as specified in institutional regulations. I am therefore urging ADM to pay due attention to this matter so that our airports and aerodromes can comply fully with the requirements, and can contribute effectively to the economic development of our country”.

For his part, the Chairperson of the ADM Board, Manuel Veterano, said that all the investments the company has been making are intended to bring the airports into line with international standards.

To date, these investments have amounted to 195 million US dollars, and over the next three years the figure is expected to reach 500 million dollars.

These investments include building new airports in the northern cities of Pemba and Nacala, and in the western city of Tete. In the latter case, the airport must be moved because it is on top of an enormous coal seam, which is part of a concession granted to the mining company Rio Tinto.

A new international terminal at Maputo airport opened in late 2010, and work is under way to build a new domestic terminal.

“Certification is a complex process”, Veterano told reporters. “It implies that these efforts we are making in rehabilitating and improving our facilities have a positive outcome. Although it is the IACM that carries out the certification, our infrastructures must meet the international standards, and we have to be honest about this”.

“The investments we are making can allow us to reach the international standards”, he stressed. “We have reshaped Maputo airport, but we still have to improve certain aspects. There is the question of the runway which needs to be completely rehabilitated, and the certification of the airport will depend on this”.

Veterano envisaged that rehabilitation of the runway would be complete by 2014, and would cost 50 million dollars.

Ingles lamented that the Mozambican business class has not set up air companies to compete with the publicly owned Mozambique Airlines (LAM). He failed to mention that one such company, Air Corridor, was set up in 2004, but went bankrupt in 2008.

Mozambican entrepreneurs, Ingles complained, “have not capitalized on the incentives for the development of civil aviation, contained in the fiscal benefits code, or in the gradual liberalization of air space, intended to encourage the appearance of more national air companies”.

So domestic flights effectively remain a LAM monopoly – but the small size of LAM’s fleet, Ingles noted, “has led to the under-use of our airport facilities”.

As for scheduled flights in southern and eastern Africa “the eligible air companies have not established the expected partnerships and cooperation”.

Instead, Ingles noted that limitations on traffic rights drove two South Africa-based airlines offering cheap flights, One Time and Comair (a subsidiary of British Airways), to abandon the Johannesburg-Maputo route. This is once again in the hands of the duopoly of LAM and South African Airways.

The statistics presented to the meeting showed that the number of passengers using the airports managed by ADM grew by 4.2 per cent in 2011, reaching 1.54 million. The increase in air freight was just 0.9 per cent, from 10,435 to 10,526 tonnes.

ADM made an operational profit in 2011 of 61 million meticais (2.25 million US dollars), due overwhelmingly to the profitability of Maputo and Beira airports.

Post published in: Africa News

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