OneWorld: Royal Air Maroc to join alliance in 2020
OneWorld is a small alliance of 13 airlines that is soon to increase to 14 with the addition of Royal Air Maroc (RAM).
The alliance is important in Australia, as our major domestic and international airline, Qantas is a foundation member, and hence OneWorld is the predominant alliance in the country. Virgin Australia, the other major airline, does not belong to an alliance and uses a network of partners.
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New member, new continent
The addition of North African based RAM will be the first time the alliance has had a member from the African continent and the first additional member to the alliance in the last 6 years.
Royal Air Maroc will add another continent to the alliances reach, and give better access to North Africa and the middle east. With a move to a refurbished Terminal 1 at its base of Casablanca airport in the coming weeks, the airline is moving towards world domination!
RAM’s low-cost brand ‘Express’ will join and an affiliate member of OneWorld.
Up until it formally joins OneWorld, Royal Air Maroc is the largest unaligned carrier in Africa. It has designs on becoming a global airline, and an industry leader in terms of size and quality in the region. It has a 55 strong fleet of aircraft, with a network to 94 destinations in 49 countries, including Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas.
As a member of OneWorld, it will instantly add 21 countries and 34 destinations to the OneWorld Airline map, bringing the totals to 1069 across 178 countries and territories.
Benefits for OneWorld frequent flyers
RAM will be adding its 1 million frequent flyers – members of its Safar Flyer loyalty program to the alliance. The program has three tiers, with the Silver and Gold tiers entitling members to priority check in at a Business class desk, additional luggage, lounge access, priority luggage delivery, and (unusual to us) plastic wrap ‘luggage protection’ during stopovers in Morocco. Given that Marrakech is the only airport where I have seen travellers arrested at the luggage scanning stage, and indeed one poor soul beaten up by guards/police – presumably for having something they shouldn’t have – that may be a great advantage.
On the surface Safa Flyer members will be mapped against OneWorld categories like this:
- Gold = Emerald
- Silver = Saphire
- Blue = Ruby
However, looking at the benefits, this maybe not the case. In benefit terms, they would be mapped something like this:
- Gold = Saphire
- Silver = Ruby
- Blue = nothing
The more canny of you will notice that there is nothing mapped against OneWorld Emerald, and the even smarter will know that RAM’s invitation-only level – Ambassador is also missing, but will probably map to Chairmans Club or similar on other OneWorld airlines.
Its probably also on the cards that RAM will launch the equivalent of a Platinum level, and/or re-jig their level benefits to better distinguish them, and match them to OneWorld status levels.
OneWorld carriers specifically British Airways, Iberia and Qatar service three destinations in Morocco: Casablanca, Marrakech and Tangier.
“We’re pleased to welcome Royal Air Maroc to oneworld. 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 will deliver greater value for more customers worldwide as we expand our alliance network to a new region.”OneWorld Governing Board Chairman Alan Joyce, Group CEO Qantas
Once Mid 2020 comes, RAM Safar Flyer members along with other OneWorld frequent flyers will enjoy the usual benefits including earning and redeeming miles/points across the network. Emerald and Sapphire cardholders will enjoy access to more than 650 airport lounges as well as extra baggage allowances. Emerald status travellers can also access fast track security lanes at some airports.
Qantas Frequent flyers and other OneWorld carriers will also be able earn and redeem on RAM – you can use the Qantas Partner Classic Flight Award Chart (you will need to look for that title down the page) as your guide for the moment.
Royal Air Maroc
Its fleet of 55 aircraft includes Boeing 737-800s and Embraer 190s for short to medium-haul routes, and Boeing 767 and Boeing 787-8s for long haul services. It received its first delivery of 787-900s in December 2018. Its regional affiliate Royal Air Maroc Express operates five ATR 72s.
RAM offers Business and Economy seating on most international routes. business class seating tends to be a little old fashioned, consisting of angle lie-flat beds, although its new 787’s come with fully flat business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.
I visited Morocco way back in 2007, travelling to Marrakech and the coastal port town of Essaouira. Amongst the wonders of the medina, the souks and the Atlas Mountains, two things of note happened: I had the worst case of food poisoning, I have suffered (rancid unpasteurised milk we think), and I witnessed at an airport what to my western eyes looked like open bribery of customs officials, and the beating up of a traveller for something.
I also witnessed immense kindness from our Riad owner and staff, who let me stay way past check-out time, and deftly dealt with the mess that accompanies food poisoning.
On a broader note, it will be good to have the benefits of OneWorld membership when returning to Morocco and travelling internally. It also opens up some interesting possibilities within continental Africa, especially on the western coast.
And, I don’t know about you, but Africa is very much on my travelling agenda.