Mozambique-S/Africa-Health

Covid-19: Mozambique Airline suspends flights to South Africa

APA-Maputo (Mozambique)

Mozambique flagcarrier, Linhas Aereas de Mozambique, has temporarily suspended its flights to neighboring South Africa, it profitable route to the new coronavirus (COVID-19), a pandemic that forced the South African authorities to close all the country's borders, APA can report on Thursday.

A LAM plane made its last trip to the South African city of Johannesburg late on Thursday. 
The Maputo-Johannesburg flight is LAM's profitable route and Mozambique's strategic gateaway to the outside world.

COVID-19 forced several countries, including South Africa, to declare a state of national disaster, which, consequently, implies the interruption of normal services, including entry and exit at borders.

However, in a brief contact with the media, a senior official from LAM said it was not easy to ascertain the financial losses for the company, as well as the number of passengers that will be affected by the measure.

The carrier said there were passengers who booked their flights earlier and others made reservations from the current month to the second half of the current year.

"We have to do a survey because our passengers bought for several days and we, as a airline that flies regularly, some bought for today, others bought for tomorrow," said a senior company official.

On each flight to Johannesburg, the number of passengers ranges from 50 to 70 on each of the two daily flights.

LAM flights link Johannesburg with various destinations in African cities and the rest of the world.

The source assured the company will resume flights to South Africa as soon as the situation normalizes.

As one of the precautionary measures against COVID-19, the official stated that, as of Friday March 27, the airline will no longer serve meals on board on all domestic flights.

Regarding international flights, the source said that the LAMs will not interrupt their operations to Dar-Es-Salam, capital of Tanzania, and Nairobi (Kenya).

Several airlines, including South African Airways, Angolan Airlines or TAAG, Qatar Airways, and the Portuguese airline TAP, have already suspended flights to and from Mozambique. The foreign airlines that are still flying in and out of Maputo are Ethiopian Airways and Kenya Airways. 

Meanwhile, the National Director of Public Health, Rosa Marlene, said that number of people infected with the new coronavirus, which causes COVID-19 respiratory disease, has risen to seven up  from five on Wednesday.

She said the new two cases, both men over the age of 40, residing in the city of Maputo, were detected in 21 people tested, in the last 24 hours, by the National Health Institute (INS).

The two returned to Maputo in the first half of March from France and England.

The information was released on Thursday, in Maputo, by national director of Public Health, Rosa Marlene, during the briefing on the latest updates on the situation of the new coronavirus, in the country and in the world. 

A media statement from Mozambique National Migration Service says all entry land points into Mozambique will be closed to all non residents after mid night on Friday, March 27 with the exception of cargo traffic. 

 Mozambique shares borders with six countries namely eSwatini, South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

CM/Dng/APA

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