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Mozambique international airport closures still up in the air

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No decision has yet been taken on which of Mozambique’s seven international airports will be closed to international flights, the head of Mozambique’s civil aviation authority told Zitamar News on Friday. He confirmed that international flights were still running to Vilankulo, a popular tourist destination in southern Mozambique, despite recent reports to the contrary.

In September 2015, Aeroportos de Moçambique (ADM), chairman Emanuel Chaves said that in future, only three airports in the country would be allowed to receive international flights: Maputo in the south, Beira in central Mozambique, and Nacala in the north.

“[However] There’s been no decision taken on this, either at the official level or at the level of the government and the civil authority,” João de Abreu, the chairman of Instituto de Aviação Civil de Moçambique (IACM), told Zitamar by phone.

“We are still looking at the proposal that was formulated by Aeroportos de Moçambique,” he said, adding that it is a complex question that will take time to evaluate.

“It’s not a matter that can be dealt with simply, as we need to involve all the partners who could suffer from a probable closure of certain entry points into the country,” he said – highlighting the aviation and tourism industries as among those that could be affected.

There is so far no deadline for the evaluation to be concluded, he told Zitamar.

Reports in Noticias in July suggested that the government had already stopped international flights to the airport at the coastal resort town of Vilankulo, the point of departure for Mozambique’s famous Bazaruto Archipelago.

However, the director of Vilankulo airport, David Augusto Banze, told Zitamar on Friday that the airport continues to receive international flights. “We have always received and will continue to receive international flights,” he said.

Banze said the proposal to reduce the number of international airports was “only on paper, with no date set for its implementation.”

If it is implemented, it will be done gradually, he said – confirming that the current plan involved continuing international flights to the airports of Maputo, Beira, and Nacala.

“We’re still waiting,” Banze said. “Until we have instructions to close to international traffic, we will continue operating.”

Mozambique’s other international airports currently include Tete and Pemba, hubs for the mining and gas industries respectively; Inhambane, another popular tourist destination; and Nampula, the biggest city in northern Mozambique.

© 2016, Zitamar Ltd. Reproduction and dissemination prohibited without written permission.

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