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National carrier flies the flag for the country's potential

Article - February 17, 2014
Plans for new infrastructure, including an airport city in Maputo, and double-digit market growth augur well for the national airline
Mozambique’s national flag carrier LAM (Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique, SA), together with Airports of Mozambique (ADM), has become a pillar for developing the nation’s infrastructure and shortening distances within the elongated country.
“We are the ones that ensure a continuous link between the south and the north,” says LAM’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Marlene Manave.
Over the past two years, LAM has seen its flight schedule grow from one to two destinations a week to now as many as two a day. Dr Manave hopes that Mozambique’s recent oil and gas discoveries will positively affect development in the transport sector, and thus expand LAM’s network. “We need the ‘boom’ we are experiencing in the mining and hydrocarbons sectors to contribute to the growth acceleration of the remaining sectors including transportation,” she says.  
“There are several basic factors that do not allow people to travel much,” adds Dr Manave. Because of the state of the roads, for example, people have “serious difficulties” driving from the airports to the towns, she points out. But both LAM and ADM are charting new territory to change that. 
“We are in a country full of opportunities ahead of us”

Dr Marlene Manave,
For instance, LAM offers accessible travel for Mozambicans, and Dr Manave is asking for help. “If we want to bring people, we need the government to invest and give us the necessary resources. The average middle-class Mozambican’s income is too low to allow them to be able to even think about travelling,” she says. 
But with careful management, Mozambique should soon see a travel explosion. New airline companies will soon enter the market and new construction is under way. “We have a project to make an airport city in Maputo of nearly $400 million, with two hotels, a shopping centre and office buildings,” says Emanuel Chaves, CEO of ADM.
LAM’s outlook is equally robust. “We are planning the next five years and in terms of market growth, it is expected to be around 12 per cent annually, even though some reports point to around 20 per cent,” Dr Manave says, adding that LAM will very likely need to expand its fleet, especially given the company’s pans to cover all Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries by 2015 before eventually expanding worldwide.            

Dr Manave sums up the airline’s three main medium-term goals, which fall in line with the country’s development plans, saying: “We need to reconstruct the foundations by developing domestic traffic, growing regionally, and creating the capacity to fly intercontinentally.”
Part of that initiative includes identifying LAM International’s strategic partner. “We have no lack of experience,” says Dr Manave. “It is our maturity that allows us to say that, with resources coming, we will ‘explode’ without any kind of doubt.” In other words, these days, the sky’s the limit for LAM.