Royal Air Maroc to join Oneworld airline alliance, giving group a foothold in Africa

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The Oneworld global airline alliance that includes American Airlines and British Airways, said Wednesday that it is bringing in Royal Air Maroc, giving the group a partner in Africa after other carriers on the continent expanded.

Delta, United and American — have been pursuing additional joint ventures that allow them to coordinate schedules and share revenue with foreign carriers.

Last week, for example, United said it reached a deal for a joint venture with Colombia’s Avianca Holdings and Panama-based Copa Holdings.

The new addition to Oneworld comes after alliance member Qatar Airways threatened in October to leave the group.

Royal Air Maroc will give Oneworld access to its robust intra-Africa service as well as a robust network in Europe and some trans-Atlantic service, the alliance’s CEO Rob Gurney told CNBC.

Royal Air Maroc currently serves Montreal, Washington D.C. and New York and plans to add service to Miami, an American Airlines hub, next spring. The airline is set to receive new Boeing 787-900s this month and plans to add new service from Casablanca to the U.S. in the coming years, but it has not yet settled on which cities, its CEO Abdelhamid Addou told CNBC.

While Royal Air Maroc plans to fly to Beijing when the Chinese capital’s new airport is complete, a larger expansion in Asia isn’t likely because there is a lot of competition, Addou said.

In addition to targeting business travelers and Moroccans who are living abroad or visiting friends and family, airline executives plan to capitalize on Morocco’s increasing popularity with tourists. The country received close to 5.9 million foreign tourists last year, up 15 percent from 2016 and up 19 percent from 2010, according to Moroccan government figures.

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