Air Corridor in trouble

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Flag of Mozambique
Flag of Mozambique

The private Mozambican airline Air Corridor may never fly again because its two Boeing 737s are grounded in South Africa with serious safety problems, according to a report in the latest issue of the weekly Maputo paper “Magazine Independente” (MI).

Air Corridor last flew in January. At that time one of its planes was already undergoing repairs in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The second then suffered a bird strike at the airport in the northern city of Nampula.

A large bird was sucked into one of the engines, and so it too had to be sent to South Africa for repairs.

Air Corridor blamed the national airport company, ADM, for the bird strike, but ADM retorted that it had done all in its powers to keep birds away from the runway.

“Magazine Independente” says it has acquired a copy of a report dated 25 January, sent by Aeronexus, the South African company trying to repair the two planes, to the Mozambican Civil Aviation Institute (IACM), which indicates that the problems with the aircraft go far beyond a simple bird strike.

Aeronexus noted that Air Corridor had no record of the routine repairs and inspections of its aircraft – and this fact alone would be enough for the civil aviation authorities to withdraw the company’s licence to fly.

The lack of certified maintenance is a serious matter indeed, and calls into question the safety of the aircraft.

Contacted by the paper, a source in the IACM said the Institute would soon make an announcement on the Aeronexus warning, because “the matter is serious and involves people’s safety”.

Air Corridor is the flagship company of the Gulamo Group, based in Nampula. It began operating domestic routes, in competition with the state-owned Mozambique Airlines (LAM), four years ago, offering much lower fares than LAM.

But there were always those who had suspicions about Air Corridor – so much so that in December 2004 the US Embassy issued a note forbidding any of its staff from flying Air Corridor planes.

The company protested vigorously, and in February 2007 the embassy lifted its ban. But it is now beginning to look as if the embassy’s fears were well-grounded.

Back in January, Air Corridor promised that it would resume flights in February. That has not happened, and MI’s attempts to speak to the company’s managers were fruitless. The paper was told that the key management figures, both in Nampula a nd in Maputo, were out of the country.

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