Both Air Canada and Royal Air Maroc are wet leasing planes from Qatar Airways for the busy summer season. From June 15th, Qatar will operate Air Canada routes to Paris and Barcelona, and from June 21st, Qatar will operate some of the services between Casablanca and Montreal for Royal Air Maroc. In addition to this, Qatar are launching their own new route in Morocco, offering a three times a week service to Rabat from 29th May.
Qatar Airways have a busy summer ahead of them. Not only are they working hard to launch their own series of additions to their network, they are also providing services to both Air Canada and Royal Air Maroc in a wet lease capacity.
The wet lease agreement means a Qatar Airways aircraft will be used, with a Qatar Airways crew. However, amenities, food and some other elements of the flights will remain as they would have been on the original carrier.
Air Canada are substituting their missing 737 MAX aircraft in a variety of ways. As well as extending the lease on some A320s and E190s, their low cost arm, Air Canada Rouge, is taking over six A321s from now defunct WOW Air. These aren’t leased, however, as they will be joining the Rouge fleet permanently once they’ve been repainted and had Wi-Fi added.
In addition to this, Qatar Airways aircraft are being wet leased to Air Canada on some select routes. Beginning June 15th, Qatar Airways will operate two routes for the Canadian airline; to Paris and Barcelona from their hub in Montreal.
For both routes, Qatar will use their A330-200s to replace an Air Canada Rouge 767-300 to Barcelona, and an Air Canada A330-300 to Paris. Altogether Air Canada has a fleet of 24 737 MAX aircraft, which they have removed from their schedules until August 1st 2019.
Royal Air Maroc
Royal Air Maroc are also making use of Qatar Airways’ extensive fleet by wet leasing one of their 777-300ERs for their Casablanca to Montreal route from June 21st. However, this wet lease is unrelated to the grounding of the 737 MAX and appears to be simply in order to add capacity to this popular route over the busy summer season.
The aircraft leased will have 412 seats in total, 388 in economy and 24 in business. It won’t operate all the Royal Air Maroc flights on this route, just flights AT208 and AT209, departing Casablanca at 18:15 and Montreal at 22:35.
Although the wet lease means Qatar staff will operate the flight, the food and amenities will be Royal Air Maroc. Although Qatar is generally seen as a more luxurious airline than Royal Air Maroc, Lucky from One Mile At A Time noted that the equipment switch is actually something of a downgrade for passengers.
The Royal Air Maroc flight was due to be operated with their brand new 787-9, which has a stunning looking business class cabin including reverse herringbone seating. The Qatar 777, on the other hand, has a 2-2-2 arrangement with lie flat forward facing seats. And before you ask, no, it’s not the one with Qsuites on board.
According to Routes Online, Royal Air Maroc will service the route with their 787-9 Dreamliner on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Qatar in Morocco
As well as spending a fair bit of time in Canada this summer, Qatar are also heading to Morocco under their own brand too. They are launching flights to Rabat via Marrakech from the 29th May using a Boeing 787, and will operate the route three times a week. They are also operating daily flights to Casablanca beginning in June.
In a press release, CEO Akbar Al Baker, said:
“We are delighted to announce the launch of services to Rabat. Morocco is a tremendously popular destination with our passengers, and we are very pleased to launch this new gateway, while also increasing our presence in the country by expanding our joint business agreement with Royal Air Maroc. Our expansion in Morocco demonstrates our commitment to the region, which began in 2002.
“Our close partnership with Royal Air Maroc will also provide our passengers access to their comprehensive network in North and West Africa, while enabling Royal Air Maroc passengers to enjoy seamless connectivity to Qatar Airways’ extensive global network spanning six continents.”
In addition to these, Qatar Airways is launching a number of new destinations over the course of 2019. These include Izmir, Turkey; Malta; Davao, Philippines; Lisbon, Portugal; Mogadishu, Somalia and Langkawi, Malaysia.