The oneworld airline alliance announced at press conference in New York City yesterday that it will be inducting Royal Air Maroc into the alliance as a full member. Morroco’s national carrier will be the first African airline to join the alliance in full, with the membership process expected to be completed in 2020. The addition was hypothesized by many in the aviation community as Royal Air Maroc is a large unaligned carrier in Africa, a continent where oneworld lacks significant presence.
Royal Air Maroc is expected to fill the large gap in the alliance map that was Africa, an area that other alliances have already expanded into including Star Alliance with Ethiopian Airlines and South African Airways and SkyTeam with Kenya Airways. Comair, flying as a franchisee of British Airways, is a oneworld affiliate member in Africa but it is not a full member of the alliance as Royal Air Maroc is expected to be and does not nearly have a comparable route network.
The airline will officially join the alliance in mid-2020 pending many integration processes with partner airlines over things such as fares, loyalty programs and information technology systems. In the meantime, the airline is embarking on a five-year plan to expand its fleet and increase the number of passengers it flies by over 75 percent. Eventually, the airline wants to serve 121 destinations across 68 countries. Most short and medium-haul route will see nearly daily frequencies with some markets having multiple frequencies from the airline’s home base of Casablanca, where the airline will be moving into a newly-rebuilt airport terminal.
Membership in the alliance will also give Royal Air Maroc inroads into the United States as passengers can connect onto soon-to-be fellow oneworld member American Airlines. Currently, Royal Air Maroc and American’s route network overlap in two American cities, New York and Washington, with Miami joining that list when the airline starts service from Casablanca in April, in addition to the countless European cities both airlines serve.
This all will give the oneworld alliance over 1,000 destinations across 187 countries and territories.
Fiji Airways Joins as a Connect Member
The other news announced was that Fiji Airways has officially joined as the first oneworld connect partner, a new membership platform for the alliance. As a oneworld connect member, oneworld elite flyers will be able to enjoy certain benefits such as priority check-in and boarding when traveling on Fiji Airways as they may do on full-fledged oneworld carriers. Additional benefits across Fiji Airways and sponsoring carriers such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas will be phased in over the next few weeks and integration with American Airlines is expected to happen in the first quarter of 2019.
As a connect member, the majority of benefits are reserved mainly for passengers of the sponsoring airlines and vice versa. Customers from the sponsoring airlines will be able to use most of their oneworld benefits on the connect airline while it appears that other non-sponsoring airlines will not be as lucky. Fiji Airways elite members will also receive benefits such as priority check-in, priority boarding and lounge access when flying on sponsor airlines.
Moving forward Fiji Airways will display oneworld connect branding on all signage and aircraft. The first aircraft to wear the purple and white oneworld sticker was the airline’s first Boeing 737 MAX 8, delivered to the airline earlier this month.
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