Trip Review: Royal Air Maroc Express ATR72 Economy

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After spending a stunning weekend with my family in Agadir, we had to return to Casablanca Sunday evening so we could all go back to work. Luckily, Royal Air Maroc offers no less than five frequencies between the holiday town and the economic capital. Wanting to make the most of our stay in Agadir, we took the last flight of the day, at 21:45, which was operated by RAM Express.

RAM ATR72 TAIL
RAM ATR 72 Tail. Photo: Author

Agadir Airport

We left our hotel at 19:30, arriving at Agadir airport at 19:57. Since Agadir airport is rather small, and there was absolutely no one else in the queues, we were checked in and through security in no more than ten minutes.

The domestic boarding area was small, with only two gates, a cafe, and rows of seats. There was, however, a VIP lounge, but since we didn’t have access, we couldn’t check it out. The door to the lounge featured a beautiful traditional Moroccan mosaic. The boarding area also featured Wi-Fi, a prayer room, and restrooms.

The Second VIP lounge door
The second VIP lounge door, just as beautiful as the first. Photo: Author

Being such a small airport, plane spotting was possible, and I got this shot of an air Arabia Morocco A320, the only aircraft type in the fleet.

Air Arabia A320
An Air Arabia Maroc A320 going to Fes. Photo: Author
I must add though, that taking pictures in Morocco isn’t necessarily like in the West where photography is omnipresent. Moroccans generally don’t mind if you take pictures of landscapes or buildings, but pictures depicting people of infrastructure can be a bit more sensitive. Hence, it’s always best to be courteous and ask for permission, especially if you want to capture people in your frame.
At around 21:15 people started to queue for boarding, though no announcements were made.

The ATR – a workhorse of the African skies

As is standard with ATRs, we boarded through the rear door, eventually making our way to row five. Also standard for ATRs is the limited overhead storage space, although this wasn’t too much an issue today.

A view behind the wing
Boarding view behind the wing. Photo: Author

What did surprise me about this particular ATR was the interior fit and finish. Admittedly, the last time I flew on an ATR was with Air Madagascar a few years back, and a decade or so ago with Precision Air in Tanzania. From what I can remember, ATRs tended to be dim, dark, and cramped, sometimes with odd backward-facing seat configurations. This ATR, on the other hand, was modern, bright and even somewhat airy.

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The PSU, for example, featured a no electronics sign instead of the traditional no smoking symbol. The seats, although being slimline, provided adequate comfort and pitch, but no recline.
RAM ATR modern seat finish
RAM ATR modern seat finish. Photo: Author
The cabin finish was, overall, tasteful, featuring brown leather seats with grey shells and red accents. I thought the fit was very much in line with the brand colors, while the brown leather reminded me of the Atlas mountains.

A noisy, and (nearly) uneventful flight

What hasn’t changed too much since the last time I flew an ATR is the noise. As we taxied from our parking position and the engines powered up, I was thrown back into a state of nostalgia of flights past. Particularly, memories of numerous, and markedly loud, especially for my young ears, Precision Air flights between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.

RAM ATR modern PSU
RAM ATR modern PSU. Photo: Author

Before I could finish my journey down memory lane, the Captain came on the speaks to announce an imminent takeoff. Seconds later, the two turboprops were set to full thrust, the cabin was immersed in a roar, and we were propelled into the night.

After that, not much happened. As we reached air cruising altitude the seat-belt signs were turned off and the lights were kept dim. Much like my last RAM flight, no service was offered to economy class passengers. I did, however, see a drinks service in the small ‘euro-business section upfront.

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RAM ATR 72 legroom
RAM ATR 72 legroom. Photo: Author

At 22:34 the seat-belt signs were turned on and we started our descent. Almost simultaneously, we hit some turbulence and cross winds, which definitely felt significant in the turboprop. Thankfully, the bumps stopped a few minutes later.

Rather oddly, as we continued our approach, a faint, unpleasant, smell swept through the cabin and a muted yelping alarm could be heard. Though I can only presume the source of the smell, due to its earthy, woody, fragrance, it eventually dissipated, and the flight continued uneventfully.

AGA lounge door mosaic
Overall, this was a serviceable flight which even featured beautiful mosaics. Photo: Author

We touched down a few moments later at 22:50, and we were through national ID checks little past 23h.

Overall, this was a rather comfortable, and largely uneventful, regional flight on the thriving national carrier.

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