The decision to cancel 30 flights between Morocco and Europe was made due to the Moroccan government's intention to tax airline tickets. The new airline tax will apply to "all movements from Morocco" and will add 100 dirhams to economy class tickets and 400 dirhams for first or business class. It comes into force on April 1, 2014. The aim of the new tax is to help the tourism sector, including funding the activities of the Moroccan National Tourist Office.Low-cost airline Ryanair announces it will axe 30 routes between Morocco and Europe from April 1, 2014
The announcement was made last Thursday via a press release from Ryanair and ran in the French newspaper Sud Ouest and a number of online sites.
The cancellation of flights to Fez, which is one of Ryanair's hubs in Morocco, is likely to hit tourism in the city particularly hard as the airline is one of the few offering direct flights to Europe. A new terminal is currently under construction at Fez airport to service the flights.
Riad managers and owners are deeply dismayed by the prospect. Vanessa Bonnin, who manages the riad and restaurant Dar Roumana in Fez said, " Tourism in Morocco was just getting back on its feet after the financial crisis and the Arab Spring. When the Moroccan government does things like this, it's us that gets caught in the middle between the airlines and the government. It seems counterproductive when the intention should be to encourage people to come to Morocco."
Ms Bonnin pointed out that Ryanair have done this before, when low-cost airlines cancelled flights to Morocco for several months in 2012, following a dispute over increased airport charges. "Ryanair pulls out and the government eventually capitulates," she said. "But in the meantime, we all lose out. The last time this happened, we lost 50% of our business for several months. A large part of our business is guests who come from the UK on the Ryanair flight on Thursday and return on Sunday...Fez is still a developing destination, and this feels like a kick in the teeth."
To see our previous story on the new airline tax, CLICK HERE.
To see our story about the 2012 crisis with Ryanair and other low-cost airlines, CLICK HERE.