The Business Year

Lorino Rodrigues

MOZAMBIQUE - Transport

Africa’s Wings

Country Manager, South African Airways (SAA)


Lorino Francisco Rodrigues holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Teacher Training from Universidade Pedagógica and an MBA with marketing specialization from the University of Liverpool. His career has included the positions of General Manager of Marketing & Sales with the CFAO Motors Nigeria Limited Truck Division; General Manager of UD Trucks Brand with Alliance Autos Nigeria Limited and Operations Manager with NMI/CFAO at the CFAO Automotive Group Nigeria; as well as National Sales Manager of Motorcare Lda, the official distributor of Nissan, Nissan Diesel and Land Rover brands. Rodrigues has been the Country Manager with South African Airways since April 2013.

How has the significance of Mozambique for South African Airways (SAA) developed over the time you have had operations here? The relationship between Mozambique and South Africa has evolved throughout […]

How has the significance of Mozambique for South African Airways (SAA) developed over the time you have had operations here?

The relationship between Mozambique and South Africa has evolved throughout the years by families living on both sides of the border, the movement of people in general, and politics; there have always been agreements. SAA has been here for many years. Up until 2006, SAA was represented in Mozambique by a general sales agent (GSA); however, in 2007 we decided to open our own branch. Now, we have a fully fledged branch with finance and sales and an operational side at the airport. This route has now become very important. Through that route, the relationship of the two governments and that of the two communities has evolved; therefore, it is important for the region and us in general. The first reason is this route is a feeder to our hub in Johannesburg. You have people coming from all over Mozambique into Maputo and connecting to Johannesburg. It is changing as other market dynamic impact on the route, but we still have business people who need to go to South Africa and Southern African territories, such as Cape Town and Durban and Lagos, Dakar, to mention just a few. Thus, we use this market to feed those routes. Other than that, we go can beyond Johannesburg in the region, such as to Luanda, Douala, or to West Africa, China, the US, or Europe. It is a very important route, and has to be looked after carefully. That is why we have Voyager, SAA’s frequent flyer program. It is how we keep our customers flying with us. It is a good, profitable route, and important for the region and the country.

How have the investments in gas and coal changed the market in Mozambique?

Investment creates demand. In 2012, we had an influx of people coming from Brazil into Mozambique because of Vale, for example. In our case, we influenced and assisted the market by bringing these people easily and comfortably into Maputo through our subsidiaries and partner airlines. These investments will assist the market to grow. It will also spur competition, which is good. New companies come because there is oil and gas. They also know many people need to travel and commute quickly. It has reached the stage where investment comes and drives the market. If you look to business people, they talk about oil and gas, and what they can do to assist or be part of oil and gas industry. We are not against that, we are actually very close to it, in such a way that we are looking into expanding our services.

There has been an influx of new airlines coming into Mozambique in recent years. What distinguishes SAA from the newer airlines in the market?

We have been in Mozambique for many years. We have for the 11th consecutive year been awarded the best airline in Africa. This sets us apart from the others because of our service. SAA has a four-star rating. The best aspect of the award is that it is the passengers who vote. SAA is also the best on-time airline in Africa. We have better and fresher products. An area where we can actually move and be closer to the competition is when it comes to partnering. One of the best partners in the airline industry is LAM. We have a code share agreement with it among others whereby we offer additional services to our customers to get to their destination. This means that they don’t have to go to three or four ticketing offices to buy their ticket. They buy one ticket and get their accumulated miles and benefits.

“ Investment creates demand. In 2012, we had an influx of people coming from Brazil into Mozambique because of Vale. “

What role is SAA playing in connecting the world’s Lusophone countries?

We have a motto, “Bringing the World to Africa and taking Africa to the world.” That is our strategy. Being an African airline, our hub is in Johannesburg, and we take people to all destinations, connecting them through Johannesburg to Brazil, India, and Angola, for example. The idea was to choose some of the destinations and connect our passengers to where they want to go. If you look at it only at an international level, outside of Maputo, we connect everyone through Johannesburg to 900 destinations in the world. We fly to 26 destinations in Africa. Through our code shares, we are looking at even more destinations. Therefore, we will do our utmost to take our passengers to those countries and partner other carries to destinations we do not operate; hence, reaching places such as Cape Verde, Lisbon, and Sío Tomé and Prí­ncipe, whenever there is a demand and it makes a sense businesswise.

Do you welcome a more competitive market in Mozambique?

With competition, you really need to be there; competition is important. When you have competition, you innovate. We are pleased with the route to Brazil. Innovation means you have to continually look after the customer. We have just introduced the new A320-200, which has extra space and is more luxurious, which makes our customer happier. The market is still growing and more competition will come. There will be a larger appetite for Mozambique because there will be more investment and opportunities. In the last week of October 2013, we transported approximately 1,800 people on 17 flights into Maputo alone, which is our entire capacity. There is still an opportunity, and we need to continue innovating.



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