I was the first person to bet last week that oneworld would announce Royal Air Maroc as its next member at its New York meeting today. And they’ve done just that.
Before word leaked that Royal Air Maroc’s CEO would be in New York at the time, and before it leaked they’d have a press conference to announce a new member, it seemed likely that the alliance would seek to expand as it celebrates its 20th anniversary; that it would expand in a region where it lacks a member (Africa); and that it would expand with a carrier which partners with oneworld airlines to serve as its sponsor. It didn’t hurt that they’d just announced an American Airlines hub as a new destination for 2019.
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Qantas CEO Alan Joyce welcomed Royal Air Maroc CEO Abdelhamid Addou into the oneworld alliance this afternoon at the Royalton Hotel in New York. Royal Air Maroc Express joins as an affiliate member as well. This will occur by mid-2020.
While British Airways offers limited service, and Qatar Airways serves several destinations, Western Africa especially becomes much more accessible through the alliance. The current Royal Air Maroc schedule adds 34 destinations and 21 countries not currently served by oneworld.
This is help the Moroccan state airline attract greater passenger levels, and also provide them greater connecting traffic to support their growth. While they’re a relatively small player with 55 aircraft, they fill a huge gap in the oneworld route network.
This is a big win for AAdvantage frequent flyers. While the only way to search award availability today is to sign up for the airline’s frequent flyer account and then search on their website, you can also just assume space is available. It usually is. And with the addition of Miami service in April they’ll offer non-stop Boeing 787 travel from 4 North American cities to Casablanca with connections beyond.
The integration will take time. Royal Air Maroc won’t become an AAdvantage redemption option right away (nor will crediting their flights to AAdvantage be offered right away). But on the whole this is a positive development for travelers.