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The big reveal: oneworld’s newest member – Royal Air Maroc

The big reveal: oneworld’s newest member – Royal Air Maroc

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Oneworld, an airline alliance, started February 1, 1999 and currently has 14 members, thanks to the new addition of Royal Air Maroc. As of 2017, the oneworld member airlines operated a fleet of 3447 aircraft, served approximately 1000 airports in more than 158 countries, recorded 12,738 daily departures and generated revenues in excess of US $130 billion

While oneworld may not be a household name, the member airlines certainly are, as the chosen few include American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, SriLankan Airlines, Japan Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian, plus approximately 30 affiliated airlines. It is the third-largest global alliance in terms of passengers (as of 2017, 527.9 million) and considers itself, “An alliance of the world’s leading airlines working as one.”

Really? One World!

If you are going to “legitimately” be considered “One World,” your membership list should include representatives from the four corners of the earth. Up to this point, the oneworld African members have been Comair (South Africa) and Qatar Airways; however, with the growth of air travel to/from Africa, this coverage has not been sufficient or efficient.

Candidates

In reality, oneworld did not have many choices as Africa’s largest carriers, including Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways and EgyptAir are members of the Star Alliance and Kenya Airways is aligned with Sky Team.

The spotlight turned to Royal Air Maroc who, up to this point, was the largest “unaligned” carrier in Africa. Now that it is part of a global alliance, the airline is poised to become a global airline and the continents leader in size and quality. Royal Air Maroc will be folded into oneworld in mid-2020 and the regional subsidiary, Royal Air Maroc Express, will join as an oneworld affiliate at the same time.

As a oneworld member, Royal Air Maroc will offer alliance services/benefits to the 1+mllion members of Royal Air Maroc’s Safar Flyer loyalty program. Now they will be able to earn and redeem rewards on all oneworld member airlines, with the top tier members gaining access to the alliance’s 650+ airport lounges worldwide. The 5-year plan includes expansion of its fleet, carrying 13 million passengers a year to 68 countries and 121 destinations.

Win/Win

Royal Air Maroc growth will focus on target markets that include commercial / business executives and Moroccans visiting friends/family. The tourism sector is likely to benefit from the new airline connectivity.  In 2017 foreign tourists numbered 5.9 million, an increase of 15 percent from 2016, and a 19 percent increase from 2010.

Travelers benefit from airline alliances as it expedites the design of global itineraries that require flights to different parts of world that are linked to frequent flyer benefits. Oneworld has a common set of status levels for all members: Emerald, Sapphire and Ruby. Ember members are the most frequent fliers and offered Fast Track or Priority Lane at security checkpoints at designated airports, plus additional baggage allowances, priority boarding and priority baggage handling. Miss a connection anywhere on the planet? The oneworld support team steps in to provide updated travel information and may even assist in finding overnight accommodations.

Now is the Time

L-R: Rob Gurney (oneworld CEO), Abdelhamid Addou (Chair, CEO, Royal Air Maroc), Alan Joyce (Qantas Group CEO)

According to Alan Joyce, Group CEO of Qantas and Chair of the oneworld Governing Board, Africa was the last major region where oneworld did not have a full member airline and yet the area is predicted to have significant growth in air travel in the coming decades.

Rob Gurney, oneworld CEO, noted that since Royal Air Maroc is becoming a global airline and with its base in Casablanca (developing into Africa’s leading aviation gateway and Africa’s financial center), the airline is a perfect fit for membership into the oneworld alliance.

After 60 years of airline experience, Abdelhamid Addou, the CEO of Royal Air Maroc, stated that he was looking forward to, “…flying alongside the finest collection or air carriers in the skies.” Oneworld also provides a pathway as the airline seeks to, “…establish Royal Air Maroc as the leading airline of Africa.”

The Press Conference

The announcement of the newest oneworld member was held on December 5, 2018 at the Royalton Hotel, NYC. Attending the event were airline and alliance members, press and other aviation industry executives.

 

  

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