Mozambique has faced several issues with regard to accessibility over the years. Tourism Update finds out from industry stakeholders whether air accessibility within the country is improving.
With tourism still relatively in its infancy, Mozambique’s infrastructure still poses challenges for travellers who want to journey across the country independently, says Arno Delport, Sales and Marketing Manager at Acacia Africa. “These factors make bookings with a tour operator attractive to even the hardiest of adventurers, especially those on a time-sensitive schedule.”
In general, Mozambique is showing positive signs for a tourism plant, as the country’s amenities have been created to meet tourist demands, says Salesio Nalyambipano, Sales Manager at Polana Serena Hotel, however, with regard to air accessibility, Samantha Holdsworth, Senior Tour Consultant at Giltedge Africa believes Mozambique has shown no signs of improvement in recent years.
Factors impeding improved air accessibility
The main concerns facing air access in Mozambique are the current airport taxes, which are exorbitant, especially when compared with other international airports, says Nalyambipano. This is reiterated by Holdsworth, who says the cost of air tickets is also too high.
Domestic flights still remain a challenge, says Nalyambipano, adding that LAM Mozambique Airlines cannot currently support all necessary domestic routes due to its limited fleet. The flights are also very expensive, however on a positive note, there is a small number of international flight companies looking to service Mozambique, such as fastjet, mentions Nalyambipano.
The airline, he believes, has contributed somewhat toward the improvement of air access in the country, as it is serving passengers that LAM cannot carry due to capacity restraints.
Improving air accessibility in Mozambique
According to Nalyambipano, improved air access could be made possible by expanding existing airport runways to make way for larger aircraft: “Mozambique could also increase its number of international airports.”
Furthermore, he believes that if the government solved its economic debt, the country would attract further investment, which, in turn, would result in an increase of international flights.
Holdsworth says the best solution for improving Mozambique’s air access would be offering less-expensive airfares for travellers and increasing LAM’s reliability. “I only book them if I cannot book any available private charters for my clients, as we want our clients to have a smooth holiday, after all.”
Open Skies to drop airfares
Speaking at the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market, David Kajange, Head of the African Union’s Transport and Tourism Division, told reporters that open skies for Africa could mean a 30% drop in airfares, therefore tour operators’ clients would be given the chance to discover even more of Africa’s numerous offerings.
Touching on the topic of open skies and its possible benefits for Mozambique, Director of Dana Tours, Natalie Tenzer-Silva, told Travel Weekly: "The distances in Mozambique are vast and difficult to cover by road, so travellers tend to stick to where the international and regional flights take them. If we create hubs in the south, centre and north, with a network of flights, then they can travel throughout the country and not stick to the traditional tourist spots such as Inhambane, Cabo Delgado and Maputo provinces. There are so many secrets to be shared, from Gorongosa Park to the tea plantations in Gurue to Lake Niassa, but we need a good network of flights to incorporate these places into different itineraries and be able to sell Mozambique as a one-stop holiday destination.”
Recommended air travel
When asked about Giltedge’s preferred way to transport guests, Holdsworth says it frequently uses Coastal Aviation for private charters. “Their service is excellent and our clients at Giltedge Africa are satisfied with it.”
Alternatively, Holdsworth will make use of LAM if need be, however it all depends on the clients’ itinerary and budget.
Robyn-Lea Meyer, Inbound Systems and Training Manager at Giltedge, says clients travelling to/from Mozambique are usually advised to use Airlink “as they are the most reliable service to fly into major tourist destinations in the country”. “The direct flight between Kruger Mpumalanga Airport and Vilanculos Airport allows for seamless connections from the Kruger to the Bazaruto archipelago – making for the perfect bush and beach connection.”
Internally, Giltedge uses helicopter charters, such as Archipelago Charters, which connect the islands from the mainland, says Meyer.