Back Again: Miami Regains Its Only Link To Africa

Miami has regained its sole non-stop passenger route to Africa, a continent not especially associated with the South Florida area. Resuming on May 13th will be Royal Air Maroc from Casablanca, returning after an absence of 26 months because of the pandemic. Miami will be one of four destinations in the US and Canada served by the Moroccan flag carrier.

The B787-8 will operate from Casablanca to Miami. Photo: Dylan Agbagni via Flickr.

What’s happening?

Royal Air Maroc initially operated the 3,755 nautical mile link from its Casablanca hub to Miami in April 2019. Because of the pandemic, the route lasted until March 2020, but it is now on sale once again.

Initially operating twice-weekly on Fridays and Sundays, it’ll jump to three – its original frequency in 2019 – in June with the addition of a Wednesday service. Miami will be Royal Air Maroc’s longest route, beating Washington Dulles by 427nm. It has the following schedule (all times are local).

  • AT204: Casablanca-Miami, 16:30-20:25
  • AT205: Miami-Casablanca-Miami, 22:25-11:40+1 (the next day)

The 274-seat B787-8 will serve Florida, of which Royal Air Maroc now has five, shows, with an average age of 5.7 years. These have 18 fully lie-flat business seats and 256 in economy. The first example, CN-RGB, was delivered on New Year’s Eve 2014. The smaller B787 variant is suited to thinner routes.

Royal Air Maroc to the US and Canada
Royal Air Maroc’s North America network in 2022 will comprise four destinations. Image: GCMap.

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Royal Air Maroc to Miami

Between April 2019 and March 2020, Royal Air Maroc carried 45,203 round-trip passengers to/from Miami, according to the USA’s Department of Transportation data. As the route was so new, its seat load factor was predictably low at 53.5%.

Of course, it can take a while to develop a long-haul route to achieve projected performance, if indeed it does. This 53.5% included the early impact of the pandemic, with pre-pandemic July and August 2019 achieving nearly 80%. Remember, SLF is just one measurement.

Royal Air Maroc Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner CN-RGX (2)
When Miami was served previously, the larger B787-9 also appeared. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Over half of passengers were point-to-point

Booking data shows that over half of all passengers (~29,000; 53%) flew between Miami and Casablanca only and didn’t connect anywhere. When a new non-stop service begins, demand should grow meaningfully whether it is by a full-service airline like Royal Air Maroc and, most notably of course, if it involves a low-cost carrier and lower fares.

Demand stimulation is ordinarily vital in route development, and it will be much more significant in leisure markets or those involving visiting friends and relatives. The entry of Royal Air Maroc grew Miami P2P traffic by 540% versus the year before, driven, in part, by the Moroccan community in Miami and wider Florida. Hence much higher peak summer loads.

Royal Air Maroc Miami
Between April 2019 and March 2020, 98% of Royal Air Maroc’s Miami passengers were P2P and over Casablanca. This map shows the top-10 transit markets and how well-placed Morocco is for southern Europe. Image: GCMap.

But connections over Casablanca were key too

It wasn’t just point-to-point demand. Over 24,700 passengers (45%) transited over the carrier’s Casablanca hub mainly to/from Europe and parts of Africa. Booking data reveals that Miami to France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Tunisia were the five largest country markets, with Miami to Tunis, Lisbon, Cairo, Porto, and Madrid the five biggest origins and destinations.

Unsurprisingly, very few passengers connected to American Airlines’ extensive services over Miami. While this is unlikely to change meaningfully, in late 2019, the pair signed a limited reciprocal codeshare agreement, which may evolve to be slightly more extensive.

Have you flown Royal Air Maroc to/from the US? Share your experiences in the comments.