On the 1st of April, Royal Air Maroc was due to join the airline alliance oneworld. But what will happen now that the aviation industry has taken a big hit due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak? On the 15th of March, Royal Air Maroc followed the advice of the Moroccan Government and suspended all international flights.
Royal Air Maroc is due to be the first African airline to join oneworld. A joining ceremony and gala were going to be held to celebrate the occasion sometime this month. oneworld’s CEO even said,
“We want to thank the team at Royal Air Maroc for all their hard work in the past year to prepare for its historic entrance into oneworld, and look forward to celebrating with them in Marrakesh in March.”
But, similar to many other airlines around the world, Royal Air Maroc was forced to ground all international flights earlier this month on government recommendations. So, if the airline does officially join oneworld at the end of the month, there currently won’t be any passengers enjoying the benefits of the alliance.
The benefits of oneworld
Despite a lack of immediate impact, any passengers traveling in the future with Royal Air Maroc will no doubt have access to oneworld benefits. This includes access to over 650 lounges across the world as well as services such as priority check-in and boarding. Members of Royal Air Maroc’s loyalty scheme will be able to redeem points with other airlines within the oneworld family.
Joining in March would have meant that passengers traveling over the summer would have had access to oneworld benefits. Connecting journeys would be easier and smoother. However, the suspension of all flights due to the virus outbreak means that what should have been a joyous and exciting time for the airline is being overlooked.
Changes and refunds
Like many airlines, Royal Air Maroc has responded to the outbreak by allowing customers to make changes to their flights free of charge. If the joining goes ahead, passengers who were due to travel before the airline joined oneworld but are now traveling after would be eligible for oneworld benefits.
The question remains that if the official date of the airline joining is changed, then when would it be? It is unlikely that all airlines will suddenly be free to fly again at the same time. Cathay Pacific has already started slowly introducing routes over the coming weeks. This means that changes to connecting flights with other airlines will become complicated for many.
The benefit for Royal Air Maroc of joining on time, despite the lack of ceremony, is that easy access to other airlines within the alliance will provide passengers with a better connection. Confusion will continue as some airline’s restrictions loosen and others are still on lockdown. If the airline has joined oneworld already, passengers would be able to switch flights and find the best flight possible at the time. The ever-changing situation means flexibility is key.
The other significant benefit for Royal Air Maroc is that as airline finances are squeezed tighter and tighter, the support and benefits of being in oneworld will help the airline recover from this difficult period. So it may be a less glamourous, less publicized event than planned, but no doubt both airline and alliance are keen for everything to go ahead as close to the plan as possible. Fingers crossed they get to celebrate in the future. Some good news would be welcomed by all.