Warm Ocean Skies: The Aviation Network of Mozambique

Airports & Airlines
Ahmed El Dahan
min read
December 10, 2021

Sitting on the south-eastern corner of Africa, Mozambique is noted for its long coast on the Indian Ocean filled with tropical beaches and beautiful scuba diving spots. The country shares several borders namely Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west, and Eswatini and South Africa to the south-west. Over the years it has seen moderate economic growth since the mid-90s and so has garnered a practical aviation network.

Throughout the country there are 25 active airports, of which eight offer scheduled services. Meanwhile the country currently features two airlines Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique (LAM) and its subsidiary Moçambique Expresso.


Maputo International Airport

Maputo International Airport

Maputo International Airport is the largest and sole international airport of Mozambique. Also known as Mavalane International Airport (previously Lourenço Marques Airport), it is located approximately 3km north-west of the Maputo city center. As the largest airport in the country, it serves as the hub for LAM Mozambique Airlines and Kaya Airlines.

An expansion project conducted by China's Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company provided the airport with a new terminal in 2010. With an initial cost of $75 million, the completion of the first phase inaugurated the new facility in November 2010 and gave the airport an annual capacity of 900,000 passengers per annum. The second phase provided the airport with a new domestic terminal. In total the airport features two asphalt runways, the longer measuring 3,660m and the second 1,700m. 

Maputo International provides a few intercontinental routes offering mostly domestic and regional destinations in Africa. Regular airlines serving the airport include Air France, Qatar Airways, Kenya Airways and Turkish Airlines. 

Nampula Airport

Nampula Airport serves the city Nampula, and is a main access point for the north-eastern side of the country. It features two runways - one asphalt 2000m and the second a 1,565m unpaved gravel. It sees scheduled services from the likes of Kenya Airways and LAM.  

Pemba Airport

This small airport serves the port city of Pemba on the eastern coast of Mozambique in the Cabo Delago province. Aside from LAM Mozambique that covers regional and domestic destinations, the airport is also served by Airlink with flights to Johannesburg–O. R. Tambo and Ewa Air to Dzaoudzi.

Beira Airport

With three asphalt runways, Beira Airport is a medium sized facility 9.5km from the coastal city of Beira. It’s scheduled services touch down at Addis Ababa by Ethiopian and domestic destinations covered by LAM. In addition Airlink also provides flights to Johannesburg.

Vilankulo Airport

Vilankulo Airport

Found in the Inhambane Province, Vilankulo Airport gives access to the touristic town of Vilankulo. The Bazaruto Archipelago just off the coast of the city is known for being an untouched natural destination with pristine beaches and intact coral reefs.

It is for this reason that the Mozambican government initiated airport improvements in 2009. Also led by the Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Corporation, the $9 million project aimed to refurbish and modernize the airport to increase capacity to 200,000 travelers per year whilst improving passenger experience. Seeing its inauguration in 2011 by then Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, the improved facility also received upgraded asphalt runways, measuring 1,439m and 734m.

To date the airport is served by LAM Mozambique and Airlink that provide domestic and South African connections respectively.

Inhambane Airport

A gateway to southern Mozambique, Inhambane Airport lies in the Jangamo District of the Inhambane Province. With two runways, one asphalt measuring 1,500m and the second sand spanning 800m, the airport only sees scheduled regional flights provided by LAM. 

Other Airports

The last two airports that feature scheduled flights in Mozambique are Lichinga Airport in the north and Quelimane on the middle-eastern coast. Both function as domestic airports served solely by LAM.


LAM Mozambique Airlines

One of the two Boeing 737-700 owned by LAM Mozambique Airlines

LAM - Mozambique Airlines, is the flag carrier of the country and was established by Portuguese authorities of Mozambique in August 1936. At first the airline was known as Direcção de Exploração de Transportes Aéreos (DETA) before being renamed in 1980. 

With its hub at Maputo International, the airline features a network that is dominated by Southern African destinations including, Nairobi, Dar Es Salam and Johannesburg along with domestic airports throughout Mozambique. Given the restrictions and inoperation imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the airline cut many of its previous routes such as Lusaka and Harare. Furthermore since 2011 it is one of the airlines banned from entering EU airspace. 

To date the LAM operational fleet features two Boeing 737-700 aircraft along with a Bombardier DHC-8-400 in storage.

Moçambique Expresso

A sister company fully owned by LAM, Moçambique Expresso was established in 1995 and also takes base at Maputo International Airport in the capital city. Similar to LAM it also provides scheduled regional and domestic flights but adds charter operations to its services.

The airline operates predominantly turboprop aircraft with seven active vessels that include single Bombardier CRJ-100 and De Havilland Canada DHC-8 planes along with two Embraer ERJ-145s.

Steady Does It

Albeit the setbacks provoked by the covid-19 pandemic, Mozambique provides an intriguing aviation landscape filled with opportunity. It has accumulated a moderate airport network with a steady stream of scheduled flights, an accomplished feat for an African nation with Mozambique's standing. Where the country lacks however is in its airline performance with much room left to cover more international  destinations, private airlines and a charter services network. If tapped, Mozambique's potential can fully harness its touristic appeal and be a highlight of aviation in Southern Africa.

Ahmed El Dahan
Aviation Journalist
A seasoned writer, Ahmed El Dahan was trained in Journalism and Mass Communication in the American University in Cairo. He then moved on to refine his writing skills working in various publications covering such topics as tourism, art exhibitions, music along with being a food critic. Relocating to Paris in 2015, he has an ever growing curiosity for the aviation industry. Away from the page, Dahan is an active professional saxophonist.

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