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Royal Air Maroc--Compagnie Nationale de Transports Aériens was formed in July 1953 (1953-07) as a result of the merger of Compagnie Chérifienne de'l Air (Air Atlas) -- set up in 1946 with Junkers Ju 52s -- and Compagnie Chérifienne de Transports Aériens Air Maroc, that was founded in 1947 and commenced scheduled operations in 1949. The fleet of the newly formed airline included six Bretagnes, four Commandos, five DC-3s and two Languedocs. These aircraft worked on routes previously served by the predecessor companies, plus Frankfurt, Geneva and Paris. The name Royal Air Maroc (RAM) was adopted on 28 June 1957 (1957-06-28),[nb 1] with the government of Morocco having a 67.73% stake.Hajj flights commenced in 1957. The carrier's fleet comprised 16 aircraft by April 1958 (1958-04), including four DC-4s, three DC-3s, seven Bretagnes and two C-46s. In May 1958 (1958-05), the airline ordered two Caravelles.:101 In July, a number of long-haul routes were launched using four Lockheed L-749 Constellationsleased from Air France, and the coastal Oran-Oujda run -- which had been suspended in May -- was reopened. Also in 1958, the carrier started flying to Gibraltar. The arrival of the Constellations enabled the airline to withdraw the DC-4s from service.
A single Caravelle was part of the fleet of four L-749 Constellations, four DC-4s and three DC-3s by April 1960 (1960-04), making the Caravelle the first jet aircraft operated by the company; another Caravelle was yet to be delivered. The type began serving the Rabat-Bamako route in July 1961 (1961-07). By 1964, there were three Caravelles in the fleet. A fourth was ordered in late 1964. At April 1965 (1965-04), the company had 758 employees and chairmanship was held by Mohammed Al Fassi. The route network included services within North Africa, and also linked North Africa with France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland; the Casablanca-Dakar and Casablanca-Las Palmas sectors were also flown. Shareholding at the time was split between the government of Morocco (64%), Air France (21%), Compagnie Generale Transatlantique (7.6%), Aviacion y Comercio (5%) and others (2.4%). An order for a fifth Caravelle was placed in early 1968. By 1969, all routes to Europe and North Africa were flown using solely these aircraft. In 1969, the carrier placed its first order with Boeing.
Royal Air Maroc took delivery of the first Boeing aircraft, a Boeing 727-200, in 1970, with the carrier deploying it on revenue service on 15 May. Subsidiary airline Royal Air Inter was formed early in the year to undertake domestic routes using Fokker F-27 Friendship equipment; this sister company started operations on 2 April 1970, and by May 1971 (1971-05), it was serving Agadir, Al Hoceima, Casablanca, Fez, Marrakesh, Oujda, Rabat, Tangier and Tetouan. The RAM's fleet at May 1971 (1971-05) comprised two Boeing 727-200s, along with four Caravelles and two SIAI Marchetti SF.260s. At a cost of US$8.85 million, a third Boeing 727-200 was ordered in 1972. In 1974, the carrier ordered a single Boeing 727-200 Advanced, followed by an order for a fourth Boeing 727-200. Also that year, negotiations with Air France for the lease of a Boeing 707-320B started. By March 1975 (1975-03), the Boeing 707 was part of an 11-strong fleet, along with four Boeing 727-200s, four Caravelles, and two SIAI Marchetti SF.260s. RAM flew the leased Boeing 707 to New York for the first time in April 1975 (1975-04), becoming the first Arab airline in serving this destination. During the year, the company acquired three Boeing 737-200s to replace the Caravelles. Also in 1975, a weekly non-stop service to Rio de Janeiro was started. An order for three more Boeing 727-200s was placed in early 1976. That year, the four Caravelles were withdrawn from service and sold. A Boeing 747-200B entered the fleet in September 1978 (1978-09).
By July 1980 (1980-07), Royal Air Maroc had 3,583 employees. At this time, the carrier fleet consisted of a single Boeing 747-200B, two Boeing 707-320Cs, one Boeing 707-320, seven Boeing 727-200s and three Boeing 737-200s. Another Boeing 727-200, ordered in January that year, was still pending delivery. At a cost of US$16 million, an additional Boeing 737-200 was ordered in 1981, with the US Export-Import Bank arranging a US$5 million loan to secure the delivery, and RAM and private financers funding the balance. Delivery was slated for March 1982 (1982-03). During 1982, two Boeing 737-200Cs were ordered for US$33 million; deliveries were arranged for March and June 1983 (1983-06). Late that year, the airline joined the International Air Transport Association.
In July 1986 (1986-07), RAM was the first African airline that introduced the Boeing 757 into service. The first of these aircraft that was delivered to the company set a record for the type when it flew the distance separating Seattle from Casablanca, 4,910 nautical miles (9,090 km; 5,650 mi), non-stop.
In the early days of the decade, the last of the 707s was removed from the fleet. Meanwhile, newer, more efficient, Classic 400 and 500 Series Boeing 737s were introduced to increase the frequency of European routes. By the middle of the decade all 727s had disappeared. To consolidate its North American operations, Royal Air Maroc purchased a single Boeing 747-400. As the decade progressed, new routes to previously under-served African airports were opened.
With the increasing number of passengers and newly opened routes as well as increasing oil prices, there was a need to buy new aircraft. In 2000 an order for 20 Next Generation Boeing 737 aircraft and 4 Airbus A321s was placed. Meanwhile, more routes to west and central African cities were opened.
RAM was now changing, from providing flights to meet the demands of foreign tourists and Moroccan expatriates, to providing connections between European cities and African cities via the Casablanca hub. In 2002, the company leased two 767s to replace the single 747 in North American routes.
Morocco and the EU signed an open skies agreement in late 2006. This means that Royal Air Maroc will have to face tough competition from low-cost carriers eager to exploit profitable routes between Western Europe and Morocco. A further challenge arises from the high cost of kerosene and the fact that the company may have to drop some of its unprofitable domestic and international routes.
It is planned that Royal Air Maroc will become Oneworld's 14th member in 2020.
Royal Air Maroc has its head office on the grounds of Casablanca-Anfa Airport in Casablanca. In 2004 the airline announced that it would move its head office from Casablanca to the Nouaceur Province, near Mohammed V International Airport. MAP, the official state news agency, said that the construction of the headquarters and a 500-room conference hotel would take 1 year and 6 months. The agreement to build the head office in Nouaceur was signed in 2009.
The carrier achieved the best result in ten years for the fiscal year 2012; cost-cutting measures had included the reduction in the number of employees by 1,974 between June 2011 (2011-06) and October 2012 (2012-10) and a fleet renewal program, and the net loss for the same period was reduced to MAD43 million. Following restructuring, which included the removal of ten medium-haul aircraft, the staff-to-aircraft ratio decreased from 110:1 to 58:1, whereas the ratio of passengers transported per employee increased from 1,054:1 to 2,329:1.
Full formal accounts do not seem to be published, but details are increasingly disclosed; figures for recent years are shown below (for years ending 30 October):
A Boeing 737-400 wearing a combined Royal Air Maroc/Atlas Blue livery in 2009. The Atlas Blue fleet was merged with the parent company's one in 2011.
As of 2018[update], the airline is owned by the Moroccan government; 53.94% of shares are owned directly by the state, an additional 44.10% are held via the Hassan II Fund for Economic and Social Development. The remaining 2% are owned by private investors including Air France and Iberia.
The government has considered the privatisation of the company for about 20 years; the latest plan, dating from late 2012, reportedly included selling up to 44% of the stakes to a Gulf airline.
As of December 2012[update], The Group Royal Air Maroc had the following subsidiaries:
Atlas Blue: RAM's fully owned low-cost subsidiary. It was created on 28 May 2004, and started operations in July the same year. Based in Marrakech, it initially operated a single Boeing 737-400 that was transferred from its parent company and deployed on charter routes to France. Operations were integrated into RAM in 2009, while the fleets of both carriers officially merged on 10 February 2011.
RAM's frequent flyer programme is called Safar Flyer. As of January 2013[update], cardholders can earn and redeem miles either by flying RAM, its direct subsidiaries, or its partner airlines Iberia, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways; hotels and car rental companies offer benefits too.
After the carrier's Board of Directors agreed to buy a number of Boeing 787s on 29 July 2005, a memorandum of understanding for the acquisition of these aircraft was signed with Boeing on 31 July the same year. The deal, worth US$650 million and including five Dreamliners, was confirmed in early November that year, with initial delivery slated for October 2008 (2008-10). The purchase contract was signed in December 2005 (2005-12), and also included an aircraft of the type on option. Following an over-US$100 million-worth contract that was signed in February 2006 (2006-02), these aircraft will be powered with General Electric GEnx engines. Boeing delivered RAM first Dreamliner in December 2014 (2014-12).
RAM was the launch customer for the ATR 72-600, when it took delivery of two of these aircraft, on behalf of its regional subsidiary RAM Express, in August 2011 (2011-08). The carrier had placed an order for four aircraft of the type in March 2009 (2009-03), along with two ATR 42-600s.
In June 2013 (2013-06), RAM's CEO indicated that the airline was seeking new generation aircraft as a replacement for its ageing fleet, adding that the carrier will need some 20 to 30 new aircraft by 2020, and that the Boeing 787 was being considered for long-haul routes, whereas the Airbus A320neo, the Boeing 737 MAX, Bombardier CSeries and Embraer E-Jet E2 families were all being considered for medium-haul flights. A contract for the lease of Four Embraer E-190s was signed in mid-2014; the carrier took delivery of the first of these aircraft in November the same year.
Throughout its history, the carrier operated the following equipment:
1 April 1970: A Caravelle III, registration CN-CCV, that was due to complete the first leg of an international Agadir-Casablanca-Paris scheduled flight, crashed on approach to Nouasseur Airport, near Berrechid, when control was lost at about 500 feet (150 m). Sixty one people perished in the accident, out of 82 occupants of the aircraft.
22 December 1973: a Caravelle VIN, registration OO-SRD, that was completing the first leg of an international non-scheduled Paris-Tangier-Casablanca passenger service, crashed into mountainous terrain on approach to Tangier Airport, some 40 kilometres (25 mi) off the airport. The aircraft had been leased from Sobelair. All 106 occupants on board perished in the accident.
21 August 1994: an ATR 42-300 operating Flight 630, the domestic Agadir-Casablanca route lost control at 16000 feet, entered a steep dive, and crashed into nearby mountains. Investigators suspect that the pilot deliberately disengaged the autopilot and directed the aircraft into the ground. All of the 44 passengers and crew members were killed.
^"Airliner market". Flight International. 119 (3757): 1294. 9 May 1981. Archived from the original on 31 July 2013. Royal Air Maroc has ordered a Boeing 737-200 for March 1982 delivery. The US Export-Import Bank is to lend nearly $5 million for the purchase, which includes an extra engine and other spares. Total value of the order is $16 million, almost $9 million of which will be raised by private financing. Royal Air Maroc will make a cash payment for the balance.
^"Marketplace". Flight International. 122 (3820). 24 July 1982. ISSN0015-3710. Archived from the original on 30 January 2014. Royal Air Maroc has ordered two Boeing 737-200 Convertibles. The 737-200Cs will be delivered in March and June 1983, and will be fitted with JT8D-15A engines. The order is worth $33 million.
^"Short hauls". Flight International: 912. 25 September 1982. Retrieved 2012. Royal Air Maroc, the Moroccan national airline, has joined the International Air Transport Association as an active member.
^"Other News - 09/14/2007". Air Transport World. 17 September 2007. Archived from the original on 29 December 2012. Retrieved 2012. Etihad Airways and Royal Air Maroc signed a codeshare agreement under which EY customers will be able connect to select West African destinations beyond Casablanca. RAM passengers will have access to EY's "expanding global flight network," it said. EY operates four-times-weekly Abu Dhabi-Casablanca service.
^"Casablanca crash". Flight International: 584. 9 April 1970. Retrieved 2012. Caravelle of Royal Air Maroc crashed on the approach to Nouasseur Airport, Casablanca, on April 1. The aircraft, on the Agadir-Casablanca-Paris route, had a crew of six and was carrying 76 passengers; there were 22 survivors of whom ten were reported to be in a serious condition in hospital. Eye-witness reports indicate that the aircraft suddenly lost height from about 500ft, 180m. on final approach and that the fuselage broke in half on impact.