Royal Air Maroc joins Oneworld Alliance
For the first time in four years, a new member is joining the Oneworld airline alliance. Royal Air Maroc, the flag carrier of Morocco, shared plans on Wednesday afternoon to join the alliance led by American Airlines and British Airways. Royal Air Maroc will be the 14th carrier to join the growing network of airlines that also includes key operators like Cathay Pacific, Finnair, and Qantas.
In joining the Oneworld network of carriers, Royal Air Maroc will greatly expand the alliance’s currently weak reach into Africa. British, Qatar, and Royal Jordanian do operate service into the continent, of course, but none have hubs in the region. According to data from the alliance, the addition of Royal Air Maroc, which operates a hub out of Casablanca, will add 34 completely new destinations and 21 new countries to the service map — though not all of those destinations are in Africa.
This is the first time that Royal Air Maroc is officially joining a mainstream alliance — and it’s a push back against a recent strategy that many carriers have taken to building partnerships on an ad hoc basis. Both Emirates and Etihad, two of the biggest carriers in the gulf, for example, have select codeshare and loyalty partners around the world, but none have official, broad membership an alliance like Star or Oneworld. Aer Lingus, similarly, is now officially part of IAG, the parent company of British Airways, but has chosen not to join the Oneworld alliance.
Royal Air Maroc’s move is also significant because it will help Oneworld compete with Star Alliance, its chief rival, in the region. Right now, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, and South African Airways all contribute African hubs to the Star Alliance network, giving it a significant advantage over Oneworld and Skyteam, the network that Delta calls home.
Outside of Africa, Oneworld is also making strides in the far east. Following American Airlines’ investment in China Southern, rumours have swirled around whether the Chinese carrier would eventually leave Skyteam to join Oneworld.
By mid-2020, Royal Air Maroc’s entry in its new alliance should be complete. At that point, network passengers should be able to connect internationally into Casablanca and throughout Africa on codeshare flights. Loyalty programs and points will also extend through its network, meaning that eventually, one should be able to use American AAdvantage or British Airways Avios points to fly on Royal Air Maroc. That functionality, however, may take longer to implement.
About Royal Air Maroc
Royal Air Maroc is the flag carrier of Morocco. It carried last year 7.3 million passengers on an average of 245 daily departures. Its current fleet of 55 aircraft is centered on Boeing 737-800s and Embraer 190s on short to medium-haul routes, with Boeing 767 and Boeing 787-8s flying longhaul services. It receives its first 787-900s this month (December 2018). Its regional affiliate Royal Air Maroc Express operates five ATR 72s.
Under its five-year growth plan, its fleet will increase significantly, as it extends the reach of its network from the current 94 destinations to 121. It will also raise frequencies in many established markets making virtually all short and mediumhaul markets at least daily and, in many cases, multiple frequencies a day, turning its Casablanca base – where in the coming few weeks, it will move into a completely rebuilt, state-of-the-art Terminal 1 – into a fully-fledged transfer hub.
Royal Air Maroc offers a two-class Business and Economy product on most international routes, including seats that convert to angle lie-flat beds in its premium cabin.
It is undergoing significant investment in product and marketing, with a new brand image and marketing content, cabin refits, redesign and new uniforms all planned in the coming months. In the past five years, its improved service and quality levels have been recognised with Skytrax raising its quality rating to four stars.
In 2017, the airline and its subsidiaries generated revenues of US$ 1.7 billion, achieving operating profits of US$ 48.5 million. It employs 5,413 people. Royal Air Maroc, which celebrated the 60th anniversary of its foundation this year, is 98 per cent owned by the state of Morocco.
It already code-shares with Qatar Airways and with oneworld’s partner Iberia and S7 Airlines. It is expected to develop further links with other oneworld member airlines as it prepares to join the group.