Royal Air Maroc is expected to be implemented into oneworld in mid-2020. Its regional subsidiary Royal Air Maroc Express will join as a oneworld affiliate member at the same time.
Oneworld’s strength historically came in connecting major business markets with high frequency. Alas, there are only so many flights between London and New York City that make sense. The alliance began to shift its focus with the additions of Qatar Airways, Sri Lankan and Malaysia Airlines in 2013-2014. These new members are allowing the group to fill out their route network better. They open up more connections into smaller markets and within developing regions rather than focusing on the city pairs dominated by legacy carriers.
In each of the prior cases their integration represented an increase in options for travellers rather than simply being another airline flying covering the same airports as the existing members. Qatar Airways helped the group develop traffic within the Middle East and also across the region, shortening connection times for a significant number of city pairs. Sri Lankan and Malaysia provided a similar boost in South and Southeast Asia.
Royal Air Maroc hopes to fill that same gap across North Africa. This is very much an augmentation, not a replication of other offerings within the alliance.
Royal Air Maroc serves nearly two dozen cities in Western and sub-Saharan Africa that existing oneworld members do not fly to today. Star Alliance member Ethiopian Airlines and its Togo-based ASKY subsidiary made strong progress in connecting many of those markets over the past couple years. SkyTeam has Kenya Airways also seeking to deliver connections in the region, though facing some challenges along the way. The Casablanca hub is not convenient for flights between those new destinations. It will, however, serve many oneworld customers well in delivering one-stop options from Europe to the region, all within the alliance. Africa is hot as an aviation growth market and the alliances all want to ensure strong representation.
Also telling is that Royal Air Maroc joins as a full partner rather than as a Oneworld Connect member. The Connect program allows for a much lighter touch integration and minimal participation in many alliance-wide initiatives. Participating as a full member is harder but brings the airline much deeper into the partnership.
* British Airways affiliate Comair participates in some oneworld programs but Royal Air Maroc is the first standalone carrier on the continent for the group.