Friday, October 23, 2009

Is Royal Air Maroc going to drop Atlas Blue?

The View from Fez is in debt to our reader Andrea Massa for alerting us to the latest news from the sky.

Royal Air Maroc Light?

Royal Air Maroc is to drop its Atlas Blue low-cost brand within half a year, instead integrating the Marrakech-based carrier's operations into the core airline.

Speaking to ATI at the Paris Air Show today, Royal Air Maroc CEO Driss Benhima confirmed the process was already underway, adding: "Within six months, brand and low-cost service will no longer be in Atlas Blue."

Casablanca-based Royal Air Maroc will continue Atlas Blue's Marrakech-based Boeing 737 operations. It will keep the aircraft in the same configuration, but it will have a business-class cabin and transform the product to include complimentary on-board catering. "We will offer all the services of a legacy carrier," says Benhima, although he adds that the Marrakech operation will be "a sort of 'Royal Air Maroc Light'".

Royal Air Maroc is hoping to increase its competitiveness against low-cost rivals through the change. "We have two tools: expanding our long-haul and domestic network," says Benhima. "We cannot get rid of this competition - we have to face it. We are trying to mitigate to point-to-point tourism, developing our hub network from Casablanca." Benhima was at the show to formally ink a previously-announced deal for two ATR 42-600s and four 72-600s. The aircraft will be operated by newly-created short-haul subsidiary Royal Air Maroc Express.

Now the questions are: will Fassi authorities commit themselves to bring Fez back on to the international map? How will the local economy be affected by that? From now on flying from the London will mean facing at least one stop in Casablanca ( 1-2 hours in the best-case scenario, sleeping over in the worst) and some late-scheduled flights (arrivals after midnight).

Hopefully answers will be provided in the course of time.


Anonymous said...

Incredible that a city that is so clearly trying to improve its infrastructure to make way for a future tourist wave could allow a key link with Europe to disappear. If you want people to come to Fes, you're going to have to make it a little easier for them.

Piggy said...

Fez is a destination that many from the UK would like to visit. If that route is dumped and we all have to travel via Casablanca I for one will not bother to visit Fez again.