Breaking Travel News interview: Habiba Laklalech, deputy chief executive, Royal Air Maroc
Breaking Travel News reporter Phil Blizzard here speaks here with Habiba Laklalech, deputy chief executive of Royal Air Maroc, about the airline’s process of expanding their operations with the addition of Boeing 787 Dreamliners into their fleet.
Breaking Travel News: Let’s start with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner with Royal Air Maroc becoming one of the latest airlines to take delivery of this aircraft. When will the first arrive into your fleet and which routes will you be using it on?
Habiba Laklalech: Royal Air Maroc will be receiving two Boeing 787 aircraft, the first in December 2014 and the second in March 2015.
The first one will be dedicated to our New York route and the second will be used on a new long haul flight Casablanca-Dubai which will commence in March 2015.
RAM’s long haul destinations are going to be significantly expanded thanks to the delivery of three additional 787 aircrafts, expected on 2016 and 2017.
BTN: What will be the impact of using the Dreamliner on these routes?
HL: For Royal Air Maroc, using the Boeing 787 is cost-effective and will enhance the profitability of our long haul routes.
For our customers, the air travel experience on the 787 will be significantly improved.
For instance, one of the key factors for the improved customer comfort is the aircraft’s pressurisation system that allows passengers to benefit from more oxygen during flight.
Also, the Dreamliner large passenger windows let more natural light into the cabin than other large commercial planes.
BTN: As the fleet of Boeing 787s expands, how will your routes grow?
HL: RAM’s long haul destinations are going to be significantly expanded thanks to the delivery of a further three 787 aircraft, expected on 2016 and 2017.
The expected Dreamliner deliveries will see the long haul fleet of Royal Air Maroc will grow from five aircrafts to ten aircrafts by 2017 and to 13 aircrafts by 2025.
We will be able to enter new markets in Africa, Asia, and America, and to strength our capacity in current long haul routes.
BTN: In order to increase the number of destinations which RAM services, you have entered interline agreements with two airlines - tell us what this means to passengers using your airline?
HL: Royal Air Maroc has interline agreements with 60 leading airlines around the world, Special Prorate agreements with 40 airlines, and code share agreements with eight airlines that allow passengers to benefit from a large network.
In America, RAM concluded an interline agreement with JetBlue Airways on October 2012.
Our customers can book a single-ticket while they are travelling on both air carriers, with a one-stop flight at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
During the stopover, luggage transfer is systematic between our two airlines.
The other Interline agreement that we put in place with Canada’s WestJet in May 2014 enables our customers to travel to dozens of North America destinations, Mexico and the Caribbean.
The Canadian airline passengers could also fly to the cities operated by Royal Air Maroc in Africa, Middle East and Europe, through the possible connections from our hub Casablanca using one ticket.
Besides, our customers can enjoy a wide range of services on board.
BTN: What can we expect from RAM in this context?
HL: Royal Air Maroc is focused on developing and strengthening the Casablanca hub by diversifying and creating new routes to the African market.
We believe that we are the major connections provider between Africa and the rest of the world.
The ambition of Royal Air Maroc is to become the most preferred airline in Africa, and to play a major role in the African and Moroccan economy development while contributing to the local and international Kingdom of Morocco prestige.
BTN: Morocco is an important gateway to West Africa, especially for European and American passengers - which are the key destinations?
HL: Morocco is indeed the first gateway to Western Africa.
Royal Air Maroc serves 31 destinations in Africa, in addition to the 18 Moroccan cities.
Traffic in Africa represents more than 20 per cent of total traffic of Royal Air Maroc, and half of our customers who come to Casablanca connect to other destinations.
Apart from Morocco, Royal Air Maroc European and American passengers mainly fly to West African countries namely Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Guinea, Mali, Cameroon, Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria.
BTN: Now Breaking Travel News is headquartered out of London and the UK is an important market so what are your plans for connections between the UK and Morocco?
HL: UK is an important market, in constant improvement, which is connected to Morocco through multiple flights per week.
In March 2013, Royal Air Maroc launched a new route from Casablanca to Gatwick, and added a new direct route from Marrakech to Gatwick.
By the end of the year, Royal Air Maroc will operate four flights per day between Casablanca, Heathrow and Gatwick, placing the UK as one of the most important markets for the company.
With the double daily flight between Casablanca and London, Royal Air Maroc will connect London to 27 destinations in Western and central Africa: Dakar, Abidjan, Bamako, Conakry, Lagos, Freetown, Accra, and more.
Thanks to RAM’s domestic network, there will be more connections with the 18 Moroccan cities served by the Company.
BTN: Finally Morocco is to be hosting the grand finals of the World Travel Awards in November, and indeed for the following two years - what will this mean to both the airline and Morocco?
HL: The signature of the three years hosting agreement proves that Morocco has become one of the leading tourism destinations for the region.
From the Atlas Mountains to the splendour of Agadir Beach, Morocco has a lot to offer to the tourists. Royal Air Maroc, as the national flag carrier, is proudly supporting the tourism and the development of the country.
Today, Royal Air Maroc has a fleet of 47 aircraft, including one Boeing 747, four Boeing 767, 37 Boeing 737 NG, five ATR 72-600, and one B737 Cargo, serving 85 destinations in 48 countries.
The airline is nominated for the title of Africa’s Leading Airline at the World Travel Awards with the winners set to be revealed at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja, Nigeria, in September.
For more on the airline visit the official Royal Air Maroc.