COVID Flight Ban Cancels 12% Of Morocco’s Flights

Morocco has banned flights to the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands following a rise in coronavirus cases. This took effect from 23:59 on October 20th. While we don’t know when flights will resume, some 2,059 round trip services were planned until the end of November – 12% of Morocco’s total flights in this period. We explore the situation for the UK.

Easyjet 1st A321neo Delivery - FIA2018 - Day 03_
easyJet is one of seven airlines serving Morocco from the UK. Photo: Airbus.

18 airport pairs from the UK to Morocco

Between October 31st and November 30th, the UK had 18 airport pairs planned to Morocco with 828 flights (both ways combined). Morocco had more flights scheduled from the UK than any other African country.

Seven airports across Morocco were to be served. The holiday hotspot of Marrakesh (RAK) had by far the lion’s share of services, followed by Casablanca (CMN), Agadir (AGA), Rabat (RBA), Tangier (TNG), Fes (FEZ), and Essaouira (ESU). As the UK doesn’t have a large Moroccan diaspora, most places relate to inbound tourism.

Morocco had flights scheduled from six UK airports. London Gatwick had the most, followed closely by Stansted and Heathrow. In terms of Moroccan destinations, Stansted had the most (five), entirely thanks to Ryanair. For airlines, Gatwick won (four), followed by Manchester (three).

UK to Morocco network Oct 21st to Nov 30th
These airport pairs were to operate. Gatwick to Marrakesh had more flights scheduled until November 30th than any other airport pair. Image: GCMap.

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Ryanair: the market leader

With a one-third share of flights, Ryanair had more flights scheduled than any of the seven carriers offering non-stop service. It was followed in order by Royal Air Maroc, easyJet, TUI, British Airways, Air Arabia Maroc, and Wizz Air UK.

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Wizz Air UK had planned one route: Luton to Marrakesh. Looking at its website, it is still available for booking from November 1st, with three-weekly flights each way until March 26th using the A321ceo. Of course, these will be pushed back unless the Moroccan Government makes an about-face.

Ryanair B737-800
Ryanair began UK-Morocco in 2006 with Luton to Fes and Marrakesh. Photo: Adrian Pingstone via Flickr.

Edinburgh to Marrakesh has been announced

In these 41 days until November 30th, Marrakesh was to welcome flights from seven UK airports across easyJet, British Airways, Ryanair, and TUI. Just one day before the ban was announced, Edinburgh revealed a new route: Marrakesh with Ryanair.

Due to begin on December 18th, the 1,474 nautical mile service has an outbound block time of four hours. It is still bookable and has two weekly year-round flights. The route was last operated by the very same airline between 2010 and 2011.


London to wider Africa: Royal Air Maroc

Perhaps the most exciting operator to Morocco is Royal Air Maroc. It has three routes to the UK: Gatwick and Heathrow to Casablanca and Heathrow to Rabat. A crucial part of its role is to transport passengers across wider Africa via Casablanca.

According to booking data, over 120,000 London passengers transited its Casablanca hub in 2019, with Lagos, Freetown, Agadir, Banjul, Marrakesh, Accra, Abidjan, Dakar, Tangier, and Monrovia having the most traffic.

What do you make of Morocco banning flights from the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments.