Royal Air Maroc joined the Oneworld global strategic alliance on April 1, 2020, however owing to the Covid-19 epidemic, celebrations were muted at the moment. Morocco’s flagship carrier, which has been a member of Oneworld for two years, has lately staged activities to commemorate the North African airline’s second anniversary of membership.
In March, the airline held events in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and Lagos, Nigeria, with AirlineGeeks attending the latter.
Monsieur Karim Benchekoun, the airline’s chief financial and support officer, represented Royal Air Maroc in Nigeria. Following an alliance board meeting in Morocco, Oneworld’s chief executive officer, Rob Gurney, traveled to Nigeria.
Royal Air Maroc joined Oneworld in December 2018, and Mr. Gurney praised the airline and its employees for completing the integration process in just fifteen months. OneWorld has added 30 additional destinations to its network, all of which are located in Africa.
Given Royal Air Maroc’s current connections with Oneworld member airlines such as American Airlines and Iberia, M. Benchekoun believes Oneworld is the ideal fit for the airline. The lack of an African partner for the airline industry’s second global strategic alliance, founded in 1999, was the fundamental rationale for joining Oneworld.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, with a population of little over 215 million people and a projected population of over 400 million by 2050, according to the United Nations. As a result, there is a developing aviation sector. Due to the various sorts of markets that the country attracts: business, tourism, and shopping, M. Benchekoun declared that Royal Air Maroc has “huge aspirations to develop the Nigerian market for obvious reasons.”
The airline previously flew to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, and now has a daily flight from Lagos, the country’s commercial powerhouse, to the company’s Casablanca hub.
With a one-hour turnaround, Royal Air Maroc’s Casablanca to Lagos flight departs late at night and arrives in Nigeria early the next morning, making it unsuitable for several markets. The return flight time to Casablanca, on the other hand, allows for several connections to the airline’s US and European services.
Between Lagos to Casablanca, the airline uses a mix of Boeing aircraft, including the 737-800, 787-8, and 787-9. The ability of Moroccans to secure a Nigerian visa, in addition to the late departure time from Casablanca, may be considered as a hindrance to expansion in the leisure industry.
M. Benchekoun stated that the airline would work to remove these obstacles, and that in addition to discussions with consulate officials about the visa issue, the company will “fight for more slots with Nigerian Civil Aviation.” Captain Musa Shuaibu Nuhu, the director-general of Nigerian Civil Aviation, was present at a later event held by Royal Air Maroc and the Oneworld alliance.
With the Kingdom of Morocco re-opening to fully vaccinated tourists on 7 February M. Benchekoun added that demand across the airline’s network had recovered very quickly. “We are now at 70 percent of 2019 demand levels, at 100 percent of the 2019 levels in certain European markets. In terms of network recovery, we are at 85 percent, with a significant increase of aircraft use. We completely resumed our Africa network except for Luanda for the time being.”
Royal Air Maroc’s aim for 2022-23 is to “concentrate on capacity and frequency,” with additional routes being added to a “medium-haul plan,” according to Benchekoun. Prior to the European Union’s Open Skies agreement, Royal Air Maroc had a 55 percent market share of flights into and out of Morocco, but it has now dropped to 32 percent.
In March, the airline launched its first route from Casablanca to Tel Aviv, Israel, serving an ex-pat community and allowing for business and pleasure travel between the two nations. The route started with a four-times-per-week flying schedule, but more flights are scheduled to be added soon.
The signing of the “Revised Constitution of the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC)” and the “Memorandum of Implementation (MoI) of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM)” by the Kingdom of Morocco on March 9 may help Royal Air Maroc expand frequency and markets across the continent, extending the Oneworld alliance’s reach.
Morocco joins a group of over 30 African Union (AU) countries that have joined SAATM and opened their markets to one another. SAATM aims to eliminate limits on frequency, capacity, and the awarding of traffic rights to one another in order to increase intra-African transport connections and support trade and tourism.
These African Union member states have a combined population of over 800 million people and control 89 percent of the intra-African air transportation industry.