American seeks bigger Africa presence with Royal Air Maroc codeshare

Nov 12, 2019

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American Airlines is mapping out its plans to expand in Africa, with a new codeshare with Royal Air Maroc to complement its new service to Casablanca next year.

American and Royal Air Maroc applied for authority with the U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday to codeshare across their networks. That includes on American’s new flight between Philadelphia (PHL) and Casablanca (CMN) that begins in June. The partnership would allow each carrier to place a flight number on certain flights operated by the other, allowing more seamless bookings and mileage accrual for travelers.

The exact details of the partnership will not be disclosed until after it is approved. However, the airlines’ application lists potential future codeshare markets, including Abidjan (ABJ) in Côte d’Ivoire, Bamako (BKO) in Mali and Cotonou (COO) in Benin.

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The codeshare is also a precursor to Royal Air Maroc’s entry into the Oneworld alliance, which is expected to occur in 2020.

When American begins flights to Casablanca in June, the destination will be its first in Africa. The destination was selected as a “first step to us really developing an Africa network,” in part, due to Royal Air Maroc’s hub in the city, American’s vice-president of network and schedule planning Vasu Raja said in August.

American has a very limited codeshare network in Africa today. The airline places its code on British Airways and Iberia flights to just eight cities on the continent, a fraction of those offered by competitors Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, according to Cirium schedule data.

Related: How American Airlines’ path to Africa landed in a gin joint in Casablanca

The number of cities in Africa that American offers codeshare flights to could jump to more than 50 under the proposed tie-up with Royal Air Maroc. Most would be served via a connection in Casablanca.

Africa is a growth market for U.S. carriers. United will return to the continent after a multi-year hiatus with seasonal service to Cape Town (CPT) from December. Delta serves four cities in Africa — Accra (ACC) in Ghana, Dakar (DSS) in Senegal, Johannesburg (JNB), and Lagos (LOS) in Nigeria — and has grown capacity annually for the past several years, Cirium schedules show.

The DOT typically approves codeshare applications, almost ensuring that American and Royal Air Maroc’s partnership will move forward.

Featured image by Nicolas Economou/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

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