60 Years Of Interconnectivity
Royal Air Maroc is one of Africa’s longest-serving airlines and one of the big five in Africa. It has significantly contributed to the growth of air travel in Africa, especially through its renewed efforts to connect other parts of the continent to North Africa. Royal Air Maroc is a mechanism to drive Moroccan government’s tourism and economic objectives, as it serves to interconnect destinations in Morocco to destinations in Europe, parts of Africa and other long-haul destinations carrying business and leisure travellers, and cargo.
With an extensive network of more than 90 destinations including 18 domestic and 79 international routes, Royal Air Maroc, founded in 1957, continues to demonstrate its relevance in improving air connectivity in Africa. Interestingly, Royal Air Maroc has drawn a sizeable chunk of its traffic from European tourism inflow into the tourism spots in Morocco and several other destinations the airline flies to in Africa. It has a large concentration of its flight services to European cities due to its proximity to Europe, and Morocco’s being a signatory to European Open Skies Agreement.
Integrating Into Emerging Africa
In a remarkable move to establish deeper integration and closer affinity with the African community, the airline is pursuing a commendable Africa connectivity ambition to reach further into East, Central and Southern African States. It is also striving to increase frequencies and entry points into West and Central Africa which are in its immediate proximity. In fact, Morocco as a country has sought to be integrated into the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
With the task of expanding into Africa as a key priority, in February 2016, Mr. Abdelhamid Addou was appointed the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Air Maroc Group. He saddled with the responsibility of taking Royal Air Maroc deeper into Africa, and growing the airline’s global network and profitability, etc.
What has become very remarkable is Royal Air Maroc’s renewed initiative to interconnect an increased number of destinations in other parts of Africa. Royal Air Maroc not only flies passengers to and from African destinations, it brings along Moroccan culture and architecture which provides opportunity for a more intimate exchange of values across its expanding network in Africa. In fact, the airline marked its 60th year anniversary of flights services in September 2017, including a special celebration flight to Dakar, one of its first international routes, inaugurated in 1958; and a giveaway of 60 free tickets to 60 persons. This is a direct response to the growing markets in Africa, and indicative of the renewed focus of African airlines to the growing market inside Africa.
Royal Air Maroc relies on its fleet of narrow and wide-body Airbus, Boeing, Embraer and ATR aircraft to operate its growing network. The airline’s fleet, with an average age of 8 years, consists of 54 aircraft. In its cargo business, the Royal Air Maroc Cargo (RAM Cargo) offers three products namely Cargo Pharma, Cargo Stable and Outsize Cargo. RAM Cargo is one of the innovations of the leadership of Mr. Addou. The airline has a number of orders with aircraft manufacturers as it plans to increase its fleet and expand its network.
Also, for two years in a row, year 2017 and 2018 specifically, the Airports Council International (ACI) World’s Airports Service Quality (ASQ) Awards announced that the Mohammed V International Airport, Casablanca, Morocco (CMN) emerged first place in the Best Airport in Africa with “over 2 million passengers per year” category. Casablanca is Royal Air Maroc’s hub airport which the airline’s team continues to build and manage traffic for. Royal Air Maroc contributes about 74% of the total passenger traffic of Casablanca Airport.
Mr. Addou explains that “the flow of traffic recorded at the Casablanca Airport has been made possible with Royal Air Maroc’s team who invests great efforts to manage the flights, ensured good punctuality rate and professionalism that allow passengers travel in the best condition,” adding: “Good traffic management has also been a contributing factor to this achievement, thanks to the exceptional and laudable efforts of the different Agencies operating at the airport such as the Office National Des Aéroports (ONDA), Customs, Police and Gendarmerie.”
Competition & Alliances
In 2004, RAM created a low cost subsidiary, Atlas Blue, dedicated to tourism and operating linkage between Morocco and tourism issuers, with point-to-point services. The same year, RAM founded Atlas Catering Airlines Services. Aside flights and cargo operations, the airline provides other services including ground handling, training and Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul (MRO).
In the ensuing competition under Africa’s SAATM, it may be more useful for African airlines like RAM to enhance their performance and those of their low-cost subsidiaries in order to compete more favourably on full-service and low-cost turfs.
Royal Air Maroc has code-shares with Iberia, Jet Blue, SN Brussels, TAAG, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, Saudi Airlines, Kenya Airways, Aeroflot, Etihad, Egyptair, Alitalia, etc. The airline also has interline agreements with more than 14 airlines across the world. With its new focus inside Africa, it is expected to build new partners with African airlines. And its affiliates such as RAM Express, RAM Handling, RAM Academy, RAM Express, Aerotechnic Industrie, Snecma Morocco Engine Services, Atlas Servair, Casa Aéro, Atlas On Line, Amadeus Maroc, Atlas Multiservices and some others, would help the airline excel in the unfolding airline marketspace in Africa.
How high Mr. Addou could fly Royal Air Maroc would depend on its access to emerging African markets under the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). Morocco is one of the States now being persuaded to sign the Solemn Agreement of the SAATM. And when it does sign, Morocco and Royal Air Maroc would have open sky markets on both the European and African sides of Morocco’s geographic gateway.
Mr. Abdelhamid Addou: Profile
Born on 26 September 1972, Mr. Abdelhamid Addou obtained Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering (M.Eng.) from Ecole Mohammedia d’Ingénieurs (EMI) and the Mohammadia Engineering School in 1997. He worked at Procter & Gamble, Morocco as a Sales Manager for Casablanca Atlantic Region and National Key Account Manager between 1997 and 2002. He moved to the Coca Cola Company and worked as a Channel Marketing Manager for North Africa from 2002 to 2005 from where he moved to Méditélécom as Vice President from 2005 to 2008.
Between 2008 and 2013, he served as Chief Executive Officer of Moroccan National Tourist Office (Office National Marocain du Tourisme), a government institution in charge of tourism strategy and promotion. As ONMT CEO, he participated in the design, planning and launch of Vision 2020, the Development Strategy of the Tourism Industry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism.
Mr. Addou also served as Chief Executive Officer of Diana Holding Group, from 2013 to 2014. Mr. Addou also served at SAEMOG, Essaouira Mogador Development Company (Société d’Aménagement d’Essaouira Mogador) as Chief Executive Officer from 2014 to 2016.
In February 2016, HM King Mohammed VI, the Sovereign of the Kingdom of Morocco appointed Mr. Addou the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Air Maroc Group.