Who wants to go to Ouagadougou? If it’s on your bucket list, you can now fly there with Avios.
Royal Air Maroc joined the oneworld alliance on 1st April. Unsurprisingly, given that the airline has currently grounded its entire fleet, it was a very low key event.
This is a more significant move than you might think. Royal Air Maroc opens up a lot of new Avios options in Africa. oneworld has, to date, been lacking a full member in Africa, putting it at a disadvantage vs SkyTeam (Kenya Airways) and Star Alliance (Ethiopian Airlines and South African).
Royal Air Maroc Express, the regional subsidiary, will become an affiliate member of oneworld.
Which airlines are in the oneworld alliance?
oneworld now has 13 full members. As well as British Airways, the other airlines involved, on which you can already earn and spend Avios, are: American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and Sri Lankan Airlines. Fiji Airlines is a looser ‘oneworld connect’ member.
(For the next four weeks there are still 14 members, as LATAM does not leave until 30th April.)
Alaska Airlines is due to replace LATAM as the 14th member at some point.
It remains to be seen if Air Europa will become a full member if – and this is now a big ‘if’ – the acquisition by IAG still goes ahead. It is also possible that Aer Lingus seeks to become a full member at some point.
Where can you redeem Avios on Royal Air Maroc?
Royal Air Maroc has a bigger network than you might think. It flies to 100 cities in 49 countries. Impressively, 21 of these countries currently have no oneworld flights at all.
Here is a route map which is slightly out of date (the Boston route is missing for a start) but is the current one on their website. It shows where Royal Air Maroc flies from its Casablanca base – click to enlarge:
Here are a few things you can now do on Royal Air Maroc when it starts operating again:
Fly direct from Manchester to Casablanca (Summer only)
Fly direct from London Heathrow and London Gatwick to Casablanca (British Airways does not fly to Casablanca so this is a new Avios option)
Fly from Casablanca to five North American cities – Boston, Miami, Montreal, New York, Washington
Fly from Casablanca to Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Dubai
Fly from Casablanca to a very wide range of African cities – see the map above
What does Royal Air Maroc fly?
It is 20 years since I flew with RAM, but the fleet looks impressive on paper. The long-haul fleet is primarily brand new Boeing 787 aircraft, with fully flat beds in Business Class.
Here’s the real treat though: looking at this review here, short-haul Business Class has ‘proper’ seating. It is a 2 x 2 layout, as opposed to the ‘3 x 3 with a blocked middle seat’ approach taken by the European carriers.
This could mean a very relaxing trip from London or Manchester to Casablanca if you want a weekend away with a difference.
Note that Royal Air Maroc uses Heathrow Terminal 4.
Would you really want to fly long haul via Casablanca?
On the face of it, it seems unlikely that you’d want to divert via Casablanca to get to New York! It is slightly less of a diversion to Rio, Sao Paulo etc.
There are two scenarios under which this might work:
on cash tickets, if Royal Air Maroc had good Business Class sale fares. You would earn 80 + 140 + 140 + 80 = 440 tier points return on most routes from London or Manchester via Casablanca.
on Avios tickets, IF taxes and charges are very low – we don’t know this yet as reward flights are not yet loaded
How many Avios will I earn on Royal Air Maroc?
British Airways has already updated ba.com with the earning rates for Royal Air Maroc flights.
Click for the airline partners page and scroll down to the Royal Air Maroc section.
Here is the key information from that page:
Minimum Avios: No
Avios tier bonus? No
Collect Tier Points? Yes
Avios awarded (percentage of flown miles)
Economy lowest (W, P, G) 25%
Economy low (K, M, L, V, S, N, Q, O, T, R) 50%
Economy flexible (Y, B, H) 100%
Business flexible (J, C, D, I) 125%
It is exactly as expected. Your earn Avios and British Airways Executive Club tier points. You do not get an Avios bonus if you have Gold, Silver or Bronze status – this is usually reserved for IAG-owned airlines and those with whom British Airways has joint venture agreements.
How many British Airways tier points will I earn on Royal Air Maroc?
RAM has also been added to the British Airways Avios and Tier Point Calculator.
The good news is that London / Manchester to Casablanca shows as 80 tier points each way in Business Class. This means that a short break would get you 160 tier points return.
(You would not normally earn 80 tier points on a oneworld partner flight – the usual rule is 40 tier points for business class flights under 2,000 miles and 140 tier points for flights over 2,000 miles. This is an exception due to the British Airways codeshare arrangement with Royal Air Maroc. For clarity, you don’t need to book under the BA codeshare to get 80 tier points.)
More interestingly, Stockholm to Casablanca is 140 tier points each way in Business Class as it is over 2,000 miles. Istanbul to Casablanca is also 140 tier points.
You could, in theory, book yourself London to Istanbul return for 160 tier points, nest an Istanbul to Casablanca return for 280 tier points, and pick up 440 tier points from a short break.
Royal Air Maroc is not known as a cheap carrier, however, due to the lack of competition flying to Casablanca. I’m not sure that the prospects for good value tier point runs are so good in reality
What are the taxes on Avios redemptions?
We don’t know. Unfortunately, Avios redemptions have not yet been added into the BA system.
You can work out the number of Avios required for any particular route by looking at the mileage-based chart for British Airways partner redemptions which is in this article.
Our beginner’s guide to redeeming Avios points here includes the Avios ‘price list’ for partner airlines.
Overall, Royal Air Maroc is a good addition to oneworld and adds some valuable new destinations to the network. Hopefully we can try out London to Casablanca at some point later this year.
You can find out more about Royal Air Maroc on its website here.
PS. Ouagadougou is the capital of Burkina Faso, and is one of the new destinations now added to the oneworld map
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