Royal Air Maroc has been revealed as One World’s newest member ending days of speculation as to whether it or China Southern were joining.
Royal Air Maroc fixes a massive hole for One World: a member airline based in Africa. Star Alliance have Ethiopian and South African as members giving them a massive footprint across the continent, Skyteam has Kenya which currently has a substantial network too. One World only has a handful of routes in Southern Africa through British Airways Comair.
Royal Air Maroc serves 94 destinations:
The airline flies to several One World hubs where passengers will be able to transfer to partner carriers. Connections with American Airlines will be in Miami and New York JFK, British Airways at London Heathrow, Iberia at Madrid, LATAM in Sao Paulo, Qatar airways in Doha and S7 in Moscow.
British Airways, Iberia and Qatar operate into Casablanca already.
Connections with Cathay Pacific, Royal Jordanian and Qantas are less obvious.
The airline will be integrated into the alliance in 2020.
Royal Air Maroc is rated by Skytrax as a four star airline. Passengers give the carrier a score of 5 out of 10 (which is higher than their rating of American). I have never flown them.
The Royal Air Maroc fleet is composed of 54 aircraft, one of which is used exclusively for cargo. Half of the fleet are 737s with long haul covered by 767s, 787s. They retired their last 747 in September this year.
The arrival of Royal Air Maroc comes at an interesting time for One World.
American Airlines have been part of a coalition of US airlines and their employee unions who have been actively campaigning against perceived unfair competition by the three large middle eastern airlines: Emirates, Etihad and Qatar. The tension has impacted the involvement by Qatar in One World.
These tensions reached fever pitch with a growing dispute between Qatar and Qantas over the Middle Eastern carrier’s aggressive push into Australia. Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker said Qantas was failing to act “in the spirit ” of the alliance by lobbying against Qatar being allowed more flights into Australia.
Qantas has been arguing Qatar is being unfairly subsidised airline and is dumping capacity and being “uncommercial and uncompetitive” by selling tickets below cost-price.
Qatar threatened to leave the Alliance over their American Airlines fight and has done so over this Qantas dispute. It is hard to know if Qatar’s CEO is bluffing or not.
I need to declare my bias. I think Qatar offer the best service and product across all classes. I enjoy access to their facilities through my Qantas One World Emerald membership. I hope they stay! I suspect that Qatar may end up going but it would not be a massive blow for One World. I suspect Qatar would lose more than the Alliance would. With the spat between UAE/Saudi Arabia and Qatar, they need all the friends they can get.
China Southern announced that they are leaving Skyteam in 2019. I think are still a serious contender for One World. China is One World’s other gap and with China’s international passenger numbers expected to hit 200 million in 2020, the alliance cannot afford to miss out for too long. I understand Cathay Pacific have been lobbying hard against this possibility. Watch this space!
in the meantime, Casablanca has long been on my bucket list. Here’s hoping I get there soon with Royal Air Maroc. After all ,I have flown with every One World member but one -S7.