Air Arabia appears to be making moves towards basing at least two aircraft in Fez and increasing the number of European destinations it services. If the rumours prove to be true it could create up to 1000 jobs and boost tourist numbers from 54,000 to over 500,000
On June 30th the airline representatives had a talk-fest at the headquarters of the Wilaya of Fez-Meknes with tourism professionals, authorities and elected officials, who studied the possibility of Fes Sais airport becoming a hub for low cost air transport to 13 international destinations. Air Arabia is a low-cost airline with its head office in the Sharjah Freight Centre, Sharjah International Airport, in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Air Arabia recently reported a 42 per cent jump in net profit, beating analyst expectations, as the airline opened new destinations and carried more passengers in the first quarter.
There was also talk of two further domestic destinations - Marrakech and Agadir
"We will make two aircraft available by the summer of 2018," says Laila Mechbal, CEO of Air Arabia. However, Mechbal noted that the commitment of his company will require support of the Moroccan National Tourist Office (ONMT) as part of a co-marketing agreement, and also a subsidy from the local authorities.
For this type of contract, the ONMT will probably pay between 15 and 20 euros per passenger. In addition elected authorities will be asked to pay an annual contribution of 20 million DH. "These grants (ONMT and local) should be approved before July 31," said the head of Air Arabia. This is to allow Air Arabia to prepare bids, start marketing, recruiting the right staff and to provide two A 320 aircraft to Fez.
The proposed new air routes from Fez are expected to be Paris, Bordeaux, Milan, Rome, Cologne, Brussels, Istanbul, Strasbourg, Lyon, London and Barcelona. In addition there will be a strengthening of links with the existing Toulouse and Montpellier services.
The airline has given its approval for regional connections between Fez and Marrakech (3 weekly flights) and Fez and Agadir (2 weekly flights). Some 90,480 seats will be reserved for these domestic flights.
Tourism professionals say, "these new services would create a real dynamic in the region" These new routes also would boost the air traffic at the Fes-Saïss Airport. It currently has just over 800,000 passengers per year. Over 76.8% of that activity is provided by Ryanair. "There should be more offers and no longer depend on a single company ... to create competition, improve service, and especially to attract more tourists to Fez", say professionals.
Finally, the creation of a direct link "Fez-Dakar", in collaboration with the ONMT, is highly desirable. The price of the latter should not exceed 2.000 DH. Especially since their destination is increasingly popular with pilgrims and Tijanes now houses the headquarters of the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema.
The popular Ryanair Fes-London flight appears to be changing flight times. As of Oct 30th flights leave Fes at 15.15, arriving in London at 18.30 then leave London at 18.55 and arrive in Fes at 22.15. Hopefully Ryanair planes will be based in Fes.