Back in January, the blogosphere went wild with claims that Royal Air Maroc would join the Star Alliance after an unverified article went viral among Aviation Geeks. At the time of the announcement, I quickly shook my head in disbelief that Royal Air Maroc would choose the Star Alliance over SkyTeam or OneWorld, as Royal Air Maroc destination and route map had the most overlap with Star Alliance.
When Matthew wrote his blog, breaking the news to Upgrd readers, I commented:
I honestly would think that RAM would better serve OneWorld or SkyTeam then they would Star Alliance. As Star Alliance already has a bustling European network and strong African connections thanks to Brussels Airways which serves central and western Africa with a number of tag routes/5th freedom routes & of course with two African partners already located in South Africa and East Africa (South African & Ethiopian) One would think that Star Alliance has Africa pretty well covered already. Whereas Africa is literally a big hole for OneWorld with coverage in East Africa and North Africa due to Qatar Airways & Royal Jordan and slightly less with SkyTeam thanks to Kenya Airways in East Africa and both Air France & KLM having a robust network to West Africa.
It turns out I might have been right; although no official alliance has been announced yet for Royal Air Maroc, CAPA is reporting that with new joint venture ties between Royal Air Maroc and OneWorld partners Iberia and Qatar, it appears as though OneWorld will likely gain Royal Air Maroc as their first African partner! CAPA also agrees that there appears to be to much overlap with the Star Alliance, and OneWorld or SkyTeam would be a better fit for the airline.
“RAM’s Qatar JV and planned Iberia JV give it relatively deep relations (for a carrier of its size) with oneworld.
This comes as RAM weighs an alliance membership. For RAM to work towards these two oneworld JVs and then join another alliance would be unusual, and Star could be expected to object to a JV with a Gulf carrier (and, further, one in a competing alliance). These two JVs bring RAM closer to the oneworld fold.
CAPA previously examined RAM’s African network, which would be the biggest draw for an alliance. There is considerable overlap with Star Alliance, perhaps diluting value to the existing members as well as RAM itself.
Alliances look to fill white spots while airlines want primarily to gain traffic (volume and quality) but this would be difficult if an alliance is already well-served in a prospective member’s market and catchment area.”
The CAPA article is worth the read, as it explores the joint venture between Qatar and Royal Air Maroc and the possibility of Royal Air Maroc joining an alliance. I would love to see the airline join OneWorld, as Africa is still a very difficult continent to travel within or to on OneWorld partners and Royal Air Maroc would expand the OneWorld alliance’s reach and provide more transatlantic flights as the airline serves both New York and Montreal Toronto.
Stay tuned, because nothing is official yet!