Like many of us, Moroccan flag carrier Royal Air Maroc (RAM) has had a rough few years due to the global pandemic. COVID’s first wave came just weeks after the airline’s ascension to membership in the oneworld alliance, and lockdowns have imposed significant disruptions to operations. Present-day RAM is smaller in terms of routes and fleet than when it entered the pandemic. As we detail below, the airline believes it is well-positioned for future success. Rightfully so, RAM has its eyes on a much brighter future.
Royal Air Maroc Celebrates Two Years of oneworld Membership
On April 1, 2020, Royal Air Maroc officially became the first African airline to join the oneworld alliance. The timing was deeply unfortunate given that the airline had suspended operations for pandemic mitigation only 11 days prior. COVID-induced operation suspensions have been on-and-off-again with the most recent iteration ending February 7, 2022.
With hopes that some sense of normalcy may be ahead, the airline is celebrating their second year of oneworld membership in a big way. Festivities began March 17 with an in-person press conference in Abidjan, the capital city of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). Attendees comprised reporters from across the African continent plus aviation media from around the world. The goal was simple: invite diverse media from multiple continents to explore local communities and learn more about the airline’s accomplishments and aspirations.
Robert Gurney, oneworld CEO, noted that while it is typical for an airline to take 18 months or more to formally join oneworld, Royal Air Maroc accomplished the feat in just 13 months. The alliance chief also noted that RAM’s traffic estimates are poised to exceed initial projections. Abdelhamid Addou, CEO of Royal Air Maroc, noted the significance of his airline’s membership with oneworld. The airline’s reach expanded from 96 destinations to over 1,000 through alliance partners. “This is an important moment for us, for our customers, for our partners, and for the oneworld alliance,” Addou said.
Membership in oneworld allows RAM access to the networks of 14 peers. But, the airline’s ambitions go further as it has actively pursued relationships with other airlines. Since 2003, RAM has had a codeshare agreement with alliance-independent Emirates.
On Sunday March 13, Royal Air Maroc inaugurated brand-new service to Tel Aviv, Israel. The following day, RAM announced a codeshare agreement with Star Alliance’s El Al.
Morocco is home to a substantial Jewish population, so both of these make perfect sense. Tighter integration with Israel further advances Mr. Addou’s goal of marketing to tourists uniquely well suited to “appreciate Moroccan culture.”
The airline operates a fleet of 50 aircraft across seven types with no outstanding orders. RAM did have an order for four 737 MAX birds, but canceled in 2019 after receiving just two. After selling some planes and returning others to lessors, the fleet is tight and not well-suited for aggressive expansion.
During the conference, Mr. Addou noted that one of the biggest risks to the airline is its fleet constraints, and suggested that he expected it would take “a few years” to return Royal Air Maroc to the size it was prior to the pandemic. Mr. Addou disclosed to International Flight Network’s Jacob Wert that the airline is looking for aircraft to replace its aging 737 fleet. While the airline does have the two 737 MAXs, earlier in the conference Addou suggested the airline is not immediately interested in picking up more.
The past few years have been hard on Royal Air Maroc. But the people behind the airline intend to build back stronger than before, even it it takes a few years. In our time with them, it became crystal clear that the airline has some of the best employees in the industry who won’t stop short of excellence in execution.
Join us in coming weeks for Royal Air Maroc flight review(s) and photos from AirlineReporter’s exclusive ramp-side photo tour at Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport. Consider a free subscription to get AR stories direct to your inbox.
Disclosure: Royal Air Maroc and oneworld invited AirlineReporter to Casablanca, Morocco, and Abidjan Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) to learn more about the airline, their alliances, and communities they serve. Travel and accommodations were provided courtesy of partnership between Royal Air Maroc and their oneworld partner. As always, our opinions remain our own.