It’s official; since the 1st of April, the oneworld alliance has its first new full member in six years. In spite of trying times, on Wednesday Royal Air Maroc became the first African airline to join the alliance.
First African member airline
In the culmination of a 15-month implementation process, the Moroccan national carrier is now a full member of one of the “big three” global airline alliances. This will open up a whole new range of destinations in Africa and the Middle East to oneworld passengers. It is the alliance’s first African addition, making the continent more accessible to its passengers via the airline’s hub in Casablanca.
Royal Air Maroc was first announced as a member-elect in December 2018, weeks before the alliance celebrated its 20th anniversary. The airline’s actual joining of the alliance has passed without any particular fanfare, however, as the planned ceremony that was to take place in Marrakesh in March had to be canceled.
“We are honoured and delighted to welcome Royal Air Maroc into the alliance, adding our first full member in the fast-growing African continent,” remarked oneworld CEO Rob Gurney in a press statement released in January announcing the date for the membership. “The quality service and global network offered by Royal Air Maroc will position oneworld as the preferred alliance in Africa, where Casablanca is a leading global financial centre.”
New destinations for the network
The addition of the airline adds up to 39 new destinations in 23 countries, most of which are in Africa, to the alliance’s network. It is a relatively small airline, with a fleet of 60 aircraft but is important to oneworld’s strategy for Africa. Under normal circumstances, it operates a fleet of mostly Boeings, with a few turboprops and four Embraer 190s in the mix.
American Airlines was to begin seasonal service from Philadelphia to Casablanca on the 4th of June, although this has now been postponed. As reported by The Points Guy, codeshare cities for American with Royal Air Maroc onward are due to include Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire), Lagos (Nigeria) and Luanda (Angola).
Royal Air Maroc already had existing codeshare agreements with four more oneworld alliance members — Iberia, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian and S7 Airlines.
Loyalty programs and regional affiliate
The Royal Air Maroc Safar Flyer loyalty program has over one million members who will now be able to earn and redeem miles through the oneworld network. The airline is also adding a new top tier Safar Flyer Platinum to its bonus scheme, offering oneworld Priority Emerald privileges including access to business and first-class lounges, first-class priority check-in, priority boarding, and fast track security.
The airline’s regional subsidiary Royal Air Maroc Express with its six turboprop ATR 72-600s and 28 destinations across Morocco, Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar also joined as a oneworld affiliate member at the same time.
If everything goes according to plan, Alaska Airlines will also be joining the alliance as a full member by summer 2021. Let us hope there will be a proper celebration when it does.
Star Alliance has three African airlines in its network — EGYPTAIR, Ethiopian Airlines and South African Airways, whereas Sky Team only has the much troubled Kenya Airways. Together, the “big three” global airline alliances represent nearly 60 airlines and hold more than half of global airline capacity.
Have you flown with Royal Air Maroc? What was your experience? Will you be making use of oneworld’s new network destinations? Let us know in the comments!