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BTN Interview: Mohamed El Masaoudi, CEO, Air Ocean Maroc

BTN Interview: Mohamed El Masaoudi, CEO, Air Ocean Maroc

Mohammed El Masaoudi is CEO of Air Ocean Maroc. BTN catches up with the aviation pioneer to discuss how Air Ocean Maroc has become of the success stories of aviation in Africa.

BTN: Tell us about the background and history of Air Ocean Maroc?
AOM: All started in 1988 when the management of company decided to buy an aircraft and the equipment to offer aerial photography and LIDAR services to local government in Morocco. After few years and as a rare service at the time, the company expanded to international markets and started to offer its services to other governments, especially in Africa.

Countries include Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Malawi, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Mozambique and many more…

In 2014 we noticed a high demand in Morocco and the region for private jets and VIP charter services. Hence, we decided to invest on the company’s first VIP aircraft (Cessna Citation 650) to fill the market need taking advantage of the entire team’s long years of experience in aviation and specialising in the African market.

BTN: What regions do you cover? 
AOM: We have solid presence in Africa, Southern Europe and Middle-East with a global coverage capability.

BTN: Your mission is to be Africa’s leading provider of on-demand executive air charter, air ambulance transportation and aircraft management services. How close are you to reaching your goal?
AOM: For VIP Air Charter, through our Rabat and Casablanca entities, we own and operate the largest fleet in Morocco and region of different type of aircrafts from Legacy 600, Hawker 800XP, Hawker 800XPI, Citation VI C650, Citation III C650, Cessna 404, King Air 200, Piper PA-46-500TP to Bell 412 helicopter offering Aircraft Charters, and as a certified and a member of Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA), EASA, NBAA, ARGUS and various other industry associations.

We become proud of the long-lasting relationship that we’ve developed across private, diplomatic, corporate, and aviation sectors as an operator that is base and existed physically in Africa counter to few companies that are base in other continents and opening a small office or even a small desk in different continents or countries to have additional code postal or addresses for promotional purposes!

For Air Ambulance services, I can say that the international standards we offer and due to current exclusivity of our accreditation as the only EURAMI & IAG Air Ambulance operator in the region. to be more geographically specific; in Central & North Africa, Middle East and southern Europe.

We completed thousands of medical evacuations and repatriations worldwide over the past years without any single incident. and become a trusted partner to biggest African and event organizers and participate in big African events like “Africa Football Cup Of Nations”.

Regarding Aircraft Management, we responded to customer’s demand and developed a management division that has earned a reputation for excellence in customer service of delivering the highest level of services. Currently we are managing a VVIP aircraft for a well-known Middle East businessman.

We will continue transform our customer experience to provide higher level of services to all our guests every time they fly with us or use our services directing the efforts of every Air Ocean Maroc team member.

I can say that we are close to become Africa’s leading provider of on-demand executive air charter and air ambulance transporter if indirectly we are not already!

BTN: You are undergoing an expansion programme – which areas are you growing your business, and why?
AOM: On demand of VIP charter services strongly growing in Africa, hence, we are adding very soon an additional aircraft to our fleet with bigger capacity and longer range that will be dedicated to transporting VVIP’s in Africa and all over the world. 

BTN: You are currently nominated for ‘Africa’s Leading Private Jet Charter’ in this year’s World Travel Awards. Why do you think this is?
AOM: As an aviator with more than 20 years’ experience in aviation field, I have witnessed for the past couple years that Air Ocean Maroc offers the same level of services to its clientele as any leading European or Middle East operators. but unfortunately, the award has not covered the continent of Africa in the past.

Myself and my colleagues know the market in Africa very well and the current physical existed operators, for example. they are many ones showing that they are base or have certain type of Aircrafts, but in reality, it is NOT.

Giving example with a south African operator that have only 2 or 3 Single Piston aircrafts, but publishing that they have a big fleet of aircrafts and they have even a Boing 737! Which is not thru.

By knowing that WTA opened the ‘Africa’s Leading Private Jet Charter’ award for the first time in Africa. We were very excited that we’ve been chosen, and we are nominated for this Big Award.

This gave us determination and a push forward to continue taking the level of services in Air Ocean Maroc and entire Africa to the next level. 

BTN: How does your air ambulance service fit into your company’s strategy?
AOM: As an EURAMI and IAG accredited Air Ambulance operator, we are clear on three things: our ultimate aim (The Vision), the impact we make (The Mission) and the way we go about work achievements (The Values). Every team member of our medical division in our company is holding these three things dearly, for we are not here to do an ordinary job! We are here for a purpose driven by passion, commitment, and humanity.

It’s about people not machines, as the medical situation is still globally fragile, and specially in Africa, our purpose is to make a difference to those needing Emergency Health Care.

Our responsibility is far reaching. The obvious impact is on saving lives, improving repatriation and evacuation outcomes and being able to react quickly and efficiently to emergencies as much possible.

We have the courage to challenge the boundaries that often exist upon providing the services. We’ve invested heavily in the development of the people who deliver the care as well the equipment’s and latest technology we use.

We’ve met and exceeded standards set by the international organisations and the Civil Aviation Authority and be able to be at the forefront of sustaining the highest standards across our industry. We do all this because we care deeply about people.

Having established our vision, mission, and values, we have key strategic aims to continue developing over the next years and these are some;
1. Continuously and always providing advance rapid response critical care services to all patients.
2. Be recognised as a leading Air Ambulance operator regionally and internationally.
3. Continuously work on Strategic coordination, deployment, and quality assurance strategies for air ambulance services to improve the outcomes in patient care.
4. Provide latest technology equipment and assets and distribute resources.
5. Continue the professional development, Re-training, educational of air medical crews and support staff.

BTN: What trends do you see emerging in private aviation?
AOM: Although the aviation sector, as well as many other sectors globally, in 2020 was hit by the coronavirus epidemic, the private aviation did well in fact. Global statistics shows a decrease in commercial aviation movements and increase in private aviation.

There’s a lot to talk about but our two main trends are digitization and sustainability.

Digital transformation in aviation industry has resulted an increase process automation and improve service speed. Furthermore, it helped the airlines to offer personalized service.

Air Ocean Maroc for example has implemented for a while now more advanced digital technologies to improve the experience of passengers who fly with us and operations teams works behind the curtains! For example, digital tech like in-flight Wi-Fi to allow passengers to do work or unwind during the flight, and for Flight operation department for example, system such; MDM, PNRGO, iPreflight, giving best example with “FLIGHTKEYS 5D” flight management system that can help optimize the routes and reduce fuel consumption.

Post Covid-19, digitization is expected more within private aviation globally from data processing, security, integration, optimizations to save the high cost of maintenance to reduce the number passenger’s touchpoints and enhance their experience and many more.

Talking about sustainability. A lot can be done to improve. At the IATA Annual General Meeting set for example last year 2021, all IATA member airlines including private aviation agreed to commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Here are some ways we see airlines can work on to reduce aircraft emissions:
• Fly more efficient aircrafts.
• Route optimization and use of new technologies to set more efficient flightpaths and reduce delays.
• Use sustainable lower-carbon alternative fuels.
• Invest in emissions offsets.
• Governments must set policies supporting carbon-reducing innovation, SAF production, and the Carbon Offsetting Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA)
• Fuel producers need to bring large scale of SAF (sustainable aviation fuel)

Again, these are only some trends that we see must not only private aviation should work on, but everyone on aviation sector should.

BTN: Which areas of private aviation excite you most, and why?
AOM:  There are many exciting areas in private aviation. Beside the significant growth the sector is experiencing and continue forecasting, there are many other areas are more exciting…

But for us, daily operational challenges are the most exciting, giving example with meeting client requirements of setting up own schedule and destination airports they wish to fly to. or a custom food request that requires special preparation and packing to stay fresh as much possible during and prepare right before the flight. These are areas where we feel the excitement every day to meet client’s expectations and do the need full.