Business Traveller is reporting that it was revealed in the Avios Investor Conference that Royal Air Maroc has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to join Avios. No timetable or details were released, other than a presumption that the Combine my Avios would not be part of the arrangement, if recent Avios airlines additions are a guide.
A MOU is a long way away from a certain thing and there have been various rumors about Royal Air Maroc the past year-plus, including that it would join Star Alliance, or OneWorld, and that Qatar Airways may take a stake following on its codeshare agreement.
Royal Air Maroc’s Safar Flyer program already has earn and redeem with Iberia Avios, Etihad Guest, and Qatar Airways Privilege Club.
Redeeming from those programs on Royal Air Maroc:
- Etihad Guest: one-way not permitted, must book 14 days in advance, and Etihad has a terrible reputation for partner award booking, see full details here
- Iberia Avios: see award chart here, effective April 1, this shows both economy and full-fare economy prices, on my recent trip one domestic segment was only sold in Y fare code which I presume would have been a full-fare economy award
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club: see partner details here and partner airline award chart here
All require calling the program to book.
As might be expected, Iberia looks to have the best award chart prices and is probably the easiest program to attempt a booking. I have not tried it, my only caution comes from trying to book Binter Canaries flights with Iberia Avios where I never succeeded finding any availability despite many calls.
What is it like to fly Royal Air Maroc?
In March I had two domestic and one short international flight on them. Typical middle of the road airline. The domestic terminal at Casablanca is barebones. International is pretty good and has a transit hotel downstairs with reasonable prices, convenient since nearby hotels are far, and the hourly train to the city takes 45 minutes.
The nonstop flight from New York JFK is appealing for those wanting quick access to West Africa.
How is Royal Air Maroc as a West Africa hub?
Royal Air Maroc has service to most of West Africa and is only now being challenged by Togo-based ASKY (Ethiopian is the parent company) which has a rudimentary, shaky hub in Lome. Everything else is a patchwork of local airlines and global airline 5th freedom routes (example: South African flight from Abidjan to Accra).
The Casablanca hub and its flight times are designed to make Africa to Europe connections, so travel within Africa often requires all-day or overnight connection. Because of this, once they dropped me off in Mauritania, I did not fly them again on my month in West Africa.
If you are paying cash for Royal Air Maroc tickets, book on the local site. See my Here’s How to Save Big on Royal Air Maroc Tickets for details.
Why Didn’t I Redeem Avios for My Ticket?
My trip planning was a blurred rush. I can’t remember if I somehow overlooked the Iberia partnership or what. These kind of mistakes get made when under a crunch to book so many destinations at once.
I paid for $428 for Casablanca – Dakhla (Western Sahara) – Casablanca (deliberate overnight stopover) – Nouakchott (Mauritania). Of that about a quarter was taxes and fees that would likely have applied to an award ticket. Would have been nice to use Avios for the rest!