In an interview with Rob Gurney, CEO of oneworld, Simple Flying learned of how Royal Air Maroc’s entry will allow the alliance to grow its presence in Africa and better compete for travelers to and from the continent.
Royal Air Maroc and oneworld
The Moroccan airline operates 58 passenger aircraft according to their fleet page. This includes a number of short-, medium- and long-haul aircraft spanning from Boeing 737s to Boeing 787s. Since announcing its intention to join the alliance, the airline has shown a preference for expansion. New flights to Beijing and Boston are two of the most notable of RAM’s new routes.
But this is part of the reason why Royal Air Maroc was an attractive partner for oneworld. CEO Rob Guerney said that, during the discussion process, Royal Air Maroc’s fleet and growth plan were significantly discussed and worked well within the alliance.
From its hub in Casablanca, the airline can offer opportunities for growth and connections. This led even American Airlines to announce a new route between Philadelphia and Casablanca.
oneworld competition in Africa
Star Alliance is one of the dominant alliances in Africa. EgyptAir, South African Airways, and Ethiopian Airlines are some of the largest carriers on the continent. This gives Star Alliance a huge leg up in Africa. Meanwhile, Skyteam has Kenya Airways.
This left oneworld without a major African carrier. They only had British Airways’ South African subsidiary, Comair, as the only real oneworld partner in the continent. However, their route network is a bit limited and not a major player for connections outside of South Africa.
That’s not all for oneworld in Africa
Mr. Gurney made it clear that oneworld is not ceding Africa. Southern and southwest Africa lack some opportunities for partners. oneworld has spoken to several carriers confidentially about partnering in the region. However, carriers in this region do not have the kind of global footprint that other African airlines have. But, some of these carriers could make for good connect partners.
Instead of adding a full partner, a connect partner would allow the alliance to grow its footprint without requiring a carrier to form the more expensive, deeper ties with alliance members. Not to mention, carriers who do not serve Africa will also be free from having to form additional partnerships which will not provide a large number of tangible benefits.
Ultimately, oneworld’s Africa strategy starts with Royal Air Maroc. The Moroccan flag carrier is building up its network to better serve connections. For oneworld carriers, this is one step forward to building up their prominence in Africa.
Do you think oneworld can effectively compete in Africa? Let us know in the comments!