Linhas Aéreas De Moçambique : Flights and Freight

Taylor GreenCameron LawrenceRachel Carr
Taylor Green - Project Manager Cameron Lawrence - Project Manager Rachel Carr - Junior Editor

Linhas Aéreas De Moçambique has an ongoing mission to deliver intercontinental services while advancing into the cargo freight sector. Director General Joao Jorge, tells us about the company’s journey.

Flag carrier transport company, Linhas Aéreas De Moçambique (LAM) glided into the industry in 1980; today, the established airline is restructuring and intends to expand its operations over the next few years. With a hub at Maputo International Airport, LAM has overcome challenges and has remained unrivalled.

Having navigated LAM through the COVID-19 pandemic, Director General Joao Jorge is transporting the airline into a new era.

Jorge began his career in aviation when he joined Mozambique Airlines in 1985. However, he developed an interest in engines when working in Seattle and Washington in the US, when LAM received the delivery of new aeroplanes, which further fuelled his interest in the more technical aspect of the industry.

“I was a technical representative in Zimbabwe and developed an interest in the management of maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) as well as the wider airline,” opens Jorge.

“I provided a lot of support and coordination between airline management support and the Air Afrique airlines in the region, especially Niger. I started to expand into management sectors, such as operations, commercial, and financial,” he adds.

Following this, Jorge moved to Ethiopia, where the country’s airline experienced rapid growth and he became involved in the company’s management before returning to Mozambique, where he was offered the challenge of taking over as Director General of LAM.

INCREASED FLEET

As the aviation industry is continually evolving, so is LAM. As little as five years ago, the company underwent a restructuring process to improve the quality of its services. Prior to the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the aviation industry was a competitive market, so the airline had to work hard to obtain and retain a market share.

“The first thing was to capacitate the employees with management skills and safety culture. We wanted to become more customer-focused and serve a better schedule with more on-time performance,” reveals Jorge.

Indeed, employees’ safety, comfort, awareness, and integration featured heavily across the necessary processes and activities, as it was imperative for LAM to provide a full level of inclusion for the workforce.

In 2019, LAM introduced fleet standardisation and then slowly increased its fleet to its current aircraft numbers. Today, the company is venturing into the cargo freight sector and has plans for intercontinental travel.

“At the moment, we are working at adding some permanent cargo capacity in Mozambique. In the past five years, we have lease serviced some aircraft with aircraft, crew, and maintenance insurance (ACMI), depending on the type of cargo we had, because each cargo can greatly differ, both in volume and the size of each unit,” details Jorge.

To cater to different capacities, LAM had to primarily rely on neighbouring South Africa or operators in Kenya with whom the airline has partnerships.

“There are also plans to restart intercontinental flights soon. We did it during the COVID-19 pandemic when there were difficulties in uplift from here to Europe, but now we strive to schedule flights before the end of the year.”

Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon, is LAM’s priority because of its cultural and historical links. Historically, Mozambique was a Portuguese colony, an overseas province, and later, a member state of Portugal. However, it gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

FLYING HIGH

LAM is presently in an extensive government support programme together with a partnership company that was chosen to carry out a revamp. Although LAM is mostly a state-owned organisation, which has required a lot of change, it operates under a self-contained and self-supported enterprise.

“We will experience challenges in the future, hence the revamp. But despite the development emerging as a difficult change, it is working out well for us. In the past few years, we have been working on incorporating a culture of safety in the business to overcome challenges,” Jorge informs us.

Significant steps are now being taken regarding fleet management, including MRO, networking, and people. LAM currently has seven aircraft, alongside two aircraft that operate from a subsidiary company almost fully integrated into LAM’s network. There are further plans to grow substantially in the next three to five years.

With training and development programmes already in place, LAM invested not only money but attention to ensure its employees are prepared. To deliver management up-skilling, the airline facilitated a mini-Master of Business Administration (MBA) for staff as soon as the restructuring started.

“We introduced seminars into the company as well as sending people out to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), along with other airline initiatives on the market. We tried to concentrate on more than just technical training: pilots, mechanics, and fight dispatchers. We believe that a varied training initiative is a strong pillar for persistent growth,” he states.

LAM were pleased to see the younger generation were also invested in what the company was doing. Dedication will dictate the airline’s future and the direction in which it wants to continue once everything has been established.

FROM TURBULENT TIMES TO A SMOOTH LANDING

Although the number of flights were reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, LAM never ceased operations despite the global disruption. The need for the company to continue throughout this tumultuous time is because of Mozambique’s geography and transport infrastructure.

“Naturally, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline business picked up when everything began to reopen. Moreover, we are already back to our pre-pandemic numbers in terms of revenue, and it coincides with a major boom in the Mozambique economy.

“There is plenty of tourism and major oil and gas projects, alongside lots of business and non-governmental organisation (NGO) support throughout the country, which creates a fair amount of traffic for us. It’s a very small but growing market,” notes Jorge. 

Regarding the future, LAM has key priorities and goals for the year ahead, such as continuing its restructuring with the partner company brought in by the government and announcing a new programme soon.

“These experts will introduce some stability to the operational and financial side of the company. We want to recover our balance sheet in terms of some historic debt that we have that will need to be restructured, and then we want to begin our growth plan, which means a lot of inter-domestic destination flights outside the hub of Maputo,” concludes Jorge. LAM’s aim is to serve more than one destination in regional countries, which the airline has already started with regions such as Lusaka in Zambia and Harare in Zimbabwe, alongside Cape Town in South Africa. The company looks forward to expanding its network by serving Nairobi in Kenya and beyond.

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By Taylor Green Project Manager
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Taylor Green is a Project Manager for Outlook Publishing. Taylor is responsible for showcasing corporate stories in our digital B2B magazines and Digital Platforms, and sourcing collaborations with Business Leaders, Brands, and C-suite Executives to feature in future editions. Taylor is actively seeking opportunities to collaborate. Reach out to Taylor to discover how you and your business could be our next cover story.
By Cameron Lawrence Project Manager
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Cameron Lawrence is a Project Manager for Outlook Publishing. Cameron is responsible for showcasing corporate stories in our digital B2B magazines and Digital Platforms and sourcing collaborations with Business Leaders, Brands, and C-suite Executives to feature in future editions. Cameron is actively seeking opportunities to collaborate. Reach out to Cameron to discover how you and your business could be our next cover story.
By Rachel Carr Junior Editor
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Rachel Carr is an in-house writer for Africa Outlook Magazine, where she is responsible for interviewing corporate executives and crafting original features for the magazine, corporate brochures, and the digital platform.