Official: Royal Air Maroc Joining Oneworld In 2020

As an update to the below story, at a press conference in New York today, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has confirmed on behalf of oneworld that Royal Air Maroc will be joining the oneworld alliance. It’s expected that Royal Air Maroc will join oneworld in mid-2020, so unfortunately we’re still about 18 months from this officially happening.


Yesterday it was widely being reported that oneworld would announce a new member airline on December 5. There was a lot of speculation as to what airline that would be. I heard people throw around Aer Lingus, Air Italy, China Southern, Royal Air Maroc, Philippine Airlines, and more.

Well, at this point it looks like we have our answer. It seems 99% certain that Royal Air Maroc will be the airline announcing that they’re joining oneworld next week. Why? Because Royal Air Maroc’s CEO will be in attendance at this meeting, so it would be too much of a coincidence for that not to be the case.

Royal Air Maroc is a great fit for oneworld

Is this the most exciting announcement ever? No, most definitely not. Royal Air Maroc is a fairly small airline, with just 55 planes. However, they’re a logical fit for the alliance:

  • Royal Air Maroc already partners with Iberia and Qatar
  • Royal Air Maroc will be oneworld’s first African airline
  • Morocco is a hot travel destination right now
  • Royal Air Maroc often has great fares, so this will be an excellent option for earning oneworld miles
  • Royal Air Maroc releases a good amount of award availability (including in business class, where they usually have at least two seats), though obviously that may change as they join oneworld
  • Most importantly they’re a non-controversial addition, since many major airlines joining oneworld may cause one of the founding members to exercise their veto rights

Where does Royal Air Maroc fly?

Royal Air Maroc has four destinations in North America. They operate:

  • Up to 2x daily flights between New York and Casablanca
  • 3-4x weekly flights between Washington Dulles and Casablanca
  • Daily flights between Montreal and Casablanca
  • As of April 3, 2019, 3x weekly flights between Miami and Casablanca

On top of that, Royal Air Maroc operates flights to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in South America, to select destinations in the Middle East, and to destinations across Europe and Africa. So I’m especially excited about all the new African destinations that oneworld loyalists will have access to.

Here’s their current routemap:

How is Royal Air Maroc’s business class?

RAM exclusively operates Boeing 787s on their routes to North America. I reviewed Royal Air Maroc’s 787 business class between Doha and Casablanca in 2016, which is roughly comparable in length to their US flights. I was pleasantly surprised by the experience.

Royal Air Maroc has flat beds in business class on their 787s (though it’s an odd configuration), the service was friendly, and the food was quite good. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly them again.

If you’re connecting on Royal Air Maroc to Europe or another destination, there’s another cool thing to be aware of. Royal Air Maroc’s 737s feature proper business class seats, similar to what you’d find in domestic first class within the US.

This is much better than what you’d usually find on an intra-Europe flight, for example, where business class is just economy with a blocked middle seat. So in many cases Royal Air Maroc is a comfortable way to get to Europe as well.

Bottom line

While I wouldn’t consider this a game changer for the alliance at large (unless you specifically fly to secondary African markets often), this is nonetheless a positive development. Royal Air Maroc serves an area that’s otherwise not currently well served by oneworld.

The airline has a solid onboard product and is good about releasing award space, so I could both see myself earning and redeeming miles for travel on them.

Now we’ll just have to wait until next week for this to be official.

What do you make of Royal Air Maroc joining oneworld?

Comments

  1. It would be cool if Royal Air Maroc flew to JNB. It would be a great way to get to South Africa.

  2. I wonder why Iberia never tried to pick up the slack for Oneworld African routes given that Madrid is <600 miles from Casablanca

  3. @keitherson: China Southern Airlines is NOT joining Oneworld as of now, though I had expected it to join rather than Royal Air Maroc. CZ is likely to simply remain without an alliance for the next couple of years.

  4. This is bad news – it spells the end of the brilliant Etihad transfer redemption where you can count on there being award seats available nearly 100% of the time for just 44K miles long haul in J. Oneworld members are going to start snapping up all that inventory.

  5. @ah : my thoughts as well. i was surprised by how TAP Portugal has a mightier African network than Iberia (and I’m counting just continental Africa so not to have the comparison skewed by Spanish-l or Portguese-linked islands off the northwest coast)

    this is a much needed addition ever since oneworld lost Air Berlin and created a HUGE hole in oneworld’s map in continental Europe.

    At least THIS addition is meaningful to oneworld. I don’t see how Fiji is all that useful at all, to say nothing of the perpetual dead-weights like RoyalJordanian, Malaysian, or SriLankan.

  6. @ah @henry LAX

    Isn’t it because European carriers’ coverage of Africa is highly correlated to their colonial history? Spain didn’t colonize the continent nearly as much as france, portgual, belgium, germany, GB, or even italy. so maybe Iberia just didn’t see as much local demand to justify expanding into Africa?

    anyway, very happy with Maroc joining oneworld. this opens up w. Africa nicely for me, especially once Maroc starts flying to Miami.

  7. How would you compare the overall business product to South African & major European airlines (Lufthansa, Air France, Turkish) with regular service to Africa.

    I’m thinking of a one stop flight between US hub and a major African cities.

  8. Casablanca airport is a disorganized hellhole. And outside of the 787’s RAM’s fleet is tired, old and stinky.

  9. Ahhh, Royal Air Maroc, where the pilots were most definitely smoking on my flight with them this past April. And agreed, CMN airport is really overcrowded and a bit dumpy. Which is a shame, because RAK airport is actually quite nice.

  10. A pity their route network doesn’t overlap with Comair, would have given some nice Intra-Africa redemptions.

  11. A very, very welcome addition to OW, which will greatly improve access to West Africa and secondary African cities. Sure, AT is still far from being a carrier of choice (as is CMN as a transit hub), but I think this will now be the quickest way to get to get from continental US to most of Africa without having to rely on *A (TK, ET, MS, SA, all of which often require significant backtracking to West Africa). I flew with them to NDJ earlier this year and even though the flight continued on to NBO, I was surprised to find that the vast majority of passengers disembarked at NDJ. This is game-changing, IMO, for access to these secondary cities.

  12. This is truly, truly fantastic. Hello Bangui! I hope, though, that AA doesn’t raise its africa award rates now that you can actually fly in africa (COMair has ba’s fuel surcharges and i refuse.)

  13. Nice post, although is this really a trait for its fit in OW? ‘Royal Air Maroc often has great fares, so this will be an excellent option for earning oneworld miles’

  14. This is a nice addition as long as AA doesn’t update their routing rules to eliminate my ability to connect in Doha for North America to Africa… What are the odds they do this once they have a partner with direct flights between the regions?

  15. What a Sh!tter ?!? … seriously Why ? … no benes to be seen here
    Not exactly outstanding Lounges etc for OWE folks .. thumbs down all the way

  16. OneWorld and RAM marriage will not last long, RAM is a terrible airline, they treat passengers like crap and they often leave them stranded at airports in europe, at JFK and in Morocco. It happened too many times. travelers with RAM at JFK held a protest against the airline two years ago because they cancelled flight and offered no reason, no vouchers and no assistance and let no one know ahead of time. A lot of people were angry and frustrated and the police showed up to intervene. Really bad idea for OneWorld.

  17. Just had a revenue coach RAM ticket AT/BGF-CMN-NIM. Joined their Safar program just in case that would get me better treatment… it didn’t. On the first seg, advance seat assignment was just a very ruff approximation! Flight attendant would do nothing about it; said take any open seat (except in Business cabin). On the second leg, got my advance window seat but seatmate was a mother with a less than year old baby, lotsa bags (some blocking my aisle access) and a baby carrier which would not fit the overhead; you’d think they would not put this person next to a ‘frequent flyer’ when there were empty seats. I’m 70+ and called in advance (live in DC — thinking I could get reasonable accommodation at one of their North American destinations)… no way… hung up 2-3 times, gave quick, simple answers to get rid of me… they don’t understand their own seating chart. But the main complaint is no hot water in the toilet and then finally no water at all. No ‘handy wipes’ available as a substitute. This is an area of the world where all sorts of diseases run amuck. Believe that’s enough to ground an airplane in the US.

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