South African Airways increases Maputo flights

SA Airways (SAA), has celebrated almost eight decades of flying to Maputo, Mozambique. “Maputo is a star in our African route network and, in keeping with the strategic objectives of our long-term turnaround strategy, we are focused on maintaining a commercially sustainable African route network and on further expanding those star-performing African routes,” says Nico Bezuidenhout, SAA acting chief executive. From humble beginnings, the route has shown considerable growth. Frequencies were increased late last year and SAA now serves Maputo with three flights a day (21 a week) on A319 aircraft.

“SAA will continue to support and expand this route as Maputo is one of the most popular in its network serving SADC countries, with South Africa and Mozambique enjoying strong trade and social ties and Mozambique being SA’s top trading partner in Africa,” said Bezuidenhout. SAA introduced flights to Maputo in 1937 when it began flying to what was then Lourenco Marques with an experimental flight on July 18, 1937, using an Airspeed Envoy, which was to connect with the Imperial Airways Flying Boat en route from London to Durban, to pick up air mail. The service used the Junkers Ju 86 from May 5, 1938. After the war De Havilland Doves were used on this service.

Although Mozambique’s economy is reliant on fuel, gas and mining, tourism has a strong showing. SAA’s service makes travel convenient, affordable and fairly quick. It takes no more than 50 minutes to fly from Joburg to Maputo – the same time it takes to fly to Durban. Jane Flood conducts walking tours in Maputo and told the Pretoria News: “Maputo is safe and, as much as we do not have that many tourists here at the moment, as they mostly prefer to go to the islands, those we get enjoy the programme we have for them.”

She said walking tour groups were most interested in the architecture of the city. “Among other attractions are Independence Square (former) President Samora Machel (Mozambique’s first post-independence president) City Hall, the Roman Catholic Church, CFM Station, the fresh produce market, the money museum and others. “According to the Forbes report, by 2020 4.5 million people will be visit Maputo a year.

“There is infrastructure here, which should be taken advantage of, and there is potential growth. Luckily the new government is working on a new tourism strategy and we can only get better,” said Flood.

This can only benefit the likes of SAA in the long term. Said the airline’s country manager in Mozambique, Lorino Rodrigues: “There is great potential here for tourism. Our operating revenue, passenger numbers and flying frequency have all gone up. The basics for good business are there but more work needs to be done. Develop the tourism potential then you’ll see how it brings in more people, more traffic and check how revenue will improve for the better,” he said. The African Development Bank says Mozambique’s real GDP posted robust growth in 2013 of 7 percent, although lower than expected due to severe floods. Growth is projected at 8.5 percent in 2014 and 8.2 percent this year.

Source: Club of Mozambique