Air Arabia Maroc Continues European Drive

North Africa’s largest low-cost carrier, Air Arabia Maroc is continuing its network expansion strategy within Europe with the introduction this winter of flights between Marrakesh and the German city of Frankfurt. The new route will be operated on a twice weekly basis using Airbus A320 equipment from October 25, 2015.

Now in its sixth year of operations, Air Arabia Maroc has increased the breadth of its operations from Morocco having grown to a fleet of four A320s. In the past five months the carrier has launched six new destinations between Morocco and Europe.

The airline inaugurated flights in July 2009 and initially offered links from Casablanca to points in Belgium, France and the United Kingdom. This summer it is offering flights from Casablanca, Fez, Marrakesh, Nador and Tangier to more than fifteen points across Europe.

Since its formation, Air Arabia Maroc’s operations from Menara Airport in Marrakesh have been limited, likely due to the already strong low-cost and leisure penetration in this market from/to Europe. It launched flights for a limited summer offering to both Bergamo Orio al Serio Airport in Italy and Montpellier–Méditerranée Airport in France in summer 2013 but did not resume the routes last year. The Montpellier service has returned this summer with flights scheduled to operate between July and September 2015.

Frankfurt will be Air Arabia Maroc’s second destination in Germany after Cologne/Bonn, a market it currently serves from Nador and previously linked to Casablanca and Fez. German national carrier Lufthansa has served the Frankfurt- Marrakesh market since October last year, while SunExpress Deutschland is also due to introduce flights this winter from October 2015.

“This new route further emphasises Air Arabia Maroc’s commitment to expanding its network for tourism, business and leisure destinations across Europe and Africa”, said Adel Ali, chief executive officer, Air Arabia Group.

“The launch of flights between Frankfurt and Marrakesh offers our German passengers a unique blend of ethnic and cultural activities allowing them to discover the magnificence of this distinctive Moroccan city. Value for money fares will allow passengers to fly directly across the two cities,” he added.

The introduction of Lufthansa’s non-stop offering between Frankfurt and Marrakesh helped stimulate the market between the two cities. The airline carried an estimated 6,700 passengers on the route over the short period it flew the service at the end of last year with average loads of around 76 per cent), while overall O&D demand on the city pair rose 47.4 per cent between 2013 and 2014 from just under 10,000 annual passengers to approaching 14,000.

Morocco has always been a country strongly associated with leisure tourism and the country has tremendous assets in terms of historical sites, beach resorts and the opportunity for desert safaris. However, MICE tourism has grew at a rapid pace in the country during 2013 and 2014.

Although this remains a relatively untapped areas of demand, business tourism has recently received strong investment, particularly in Casablanca, Marrakesh and Agadir, with a particular emphasis on promoting Morocco as a regional hub for MICE tourism in the Middle East and North Africa region. Morocco’s National Tourism strategy has also focused on promoting and developing tourism in the country’s many smaller cities.

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…