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North Africa-based Royal Air Maroc is joining Oneworld, giving the alliance a much greater reach throughout Africa, the Middle East, Europe and beyond.
Members of other Oneworld airlines' frequent flyer schemes, including Qantas Frequent Flyers, will be able to earn and redeem points on numerous destinations to and from the airline’s hub in Casablanca, Morocco, as well as enjoying status-based perks such as priority check-in and lounge access when flying on Royal Air Maroc.
However, those alliance-wide benefits won't be available until Royal Air Maroc's Oneworld membership officially kicks in around mid-2020.
While this is not Oneworld's first foray into Africa – British Airways' affiliate Comair runs flights around the south of Africa – Royal Air Maroc will be the alliance's first full member from Africa. Its regional subsidiary Royal Air Maroc Express will also become a Oneworld affiliate.
Royal Air Maroc is Oneworld's 14th member airline, and today's announcement comes ahead of the alliance's 20th anniversary in February 2019.
Alan Joyce, Oneworld Governing Chairman and Qantas Group CEO, observed that “Africa is the last major region where Oneworld does not have a full member airline - and has one of the fastest predicted air travel growth rates over the next few decades.”
Royal Air Maroc's network
For those intending to explore or do business around the vast African continent, Royal Air Maroc has plenty of links from Europe and the Middle East to Casablanca, then onwards to more than 40 destinations within Morocco and other African countries – 34 of which will be new to Oneworld's map.
For Australians, the major connecting hubs onto Royal Air Maroc’s network will be in London/Heathrow for Qantas travellers, and Doha for Qatar Airways passengers.
From Casablanca, Royal Air Maroc airline also flies to Montréal, New York and Washington in North America, as well as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in South America. Boston and Miami will be added to that list in 2019.
Royal Air Maroc plans to to extend the reach of its network from the current 94 destinations to 121, as well as boost flight frequencies in many established markets, over the next five years.
Flying with Royal Air Maroc
Royal Air Maroc's fleet is built around thirty-eight Boeing 737s, three Boeing 767-300ERs and five Boeing 787-8s, with the first of four Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners due this month. There’s also nine smaller ATR and Embraer jets for regional routes.
The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners are kitted out with 18 fully-flat seats in a 2-2-2 pattern...
... while the new Boeing 787-9 jets have a more modern 1-2-1 busienss class.
The aging Boeing 767s feature 12 angle-flat seats, over two rows of 2-2-2.
The Boeing 737s have 12 recliners in three rows of a 2-2 layout, not dissimilar to Qantas’ 737 business class and a marked improvement over the typical ‘Euro-Business’ seat found on single-aisle jets dashing across European skies (and sometimes to North Africa too).
In the coming weeks, Royal Air Maroc will move into the refurbished Terminal 1 at Casablanca Airport, which features its appropriately-named Casablanca Lounge for business class travellers and top-tier members of the airline's Safar Flyer loyalty scheme.
Frequent flyer status
Here is how the tiers of Royal Air Maroc’s Safar Flyer loyalty program line up against those of other Oneworld member airlines.
- Safar Flyer Blue is Royal Air Maroc’s entry-level membership and comes with no tangible benefits
- Safar Flyer Silver is equivalent to Oneworld Ruby status, including Qantas Frequent Flyer Silver
- Safar Flyer Gold is equivalent to Oneworld Sapphire status, including Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold
- Safar Flyer Ambassador is an elite invitation-only level – think of it as Royal Air Maroc's version of the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge, British Airways’ Executive Club Premier and Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club Diamond Plus
Note that Royal Air Maroc currently has no equivalent to Oneworld Emerald status, although we wouldn’t be surprised to see the airline launch a Safar Flyer Platinum tier in the coming year.