Cathay Pacific Airways customers are getting a new gateway into Africa after the Oneworld Alliance, to which it belongs, announced it was adding Royal Air Maroc as a member.
During a ceremony in New York, Morocco’s national carrier was presented as the alliance’s first member from Africa. The Casablanca-based airline is expected to join the group by mid-2020.
The airline’s inclusion will give Oneworld 14 core members as it battles alongside other global groups, Star Alliance, of which Singapore Airlines is a member, and Skyteam, which includes Delta Air Lines.
From Casablanca, the airline adds dozens of destinations in North and West Africa which were not previously served by Oneworld. The benefits of the partnership work both ways, as the North African carrier’s presence stretches only as far as the Middle East, meaning it relies on partners to carry its passengers into Asia.
Abdelhamid Addou, the CEO of Royal Air Maroc, said he was keen to fly to Beijing when the new airport opens there next year.
“We have nearly 200,000 tourists visit from China to Morocco every year,” he said. “We have lots of trade between China, Morocco and Africa, and to us, it’s important that we invest in these new routes and we connect with different types of Chinese airlines.”
Rob Gurney, Oneworld CEO, said: “What this enables us to do is add thousands of new origin and destination points for our customers globally from the United States, Europe and Asia, to Africa.”
Meanwhile, Alan Joyce, the Oneworld chairman and Qantas Group CEO, said that global airline alliances existed to make it easier for customers to transfer between trusted airline partners, enabling them to reach more places around the world than they could do on one airline.
There are other airlines waiting in the wings to join the alliance, giving Cathay’s frequent fliers more incentive to travel with a wider range of airlines in future.
Cathay’s new partner, Fiji Airways, started its membership of Oneworld on Wednesday, after announcing earlier in the summer it would join the alliance’s new “partnership” scheme, which targets regional airlines.
With the Moroccan airline adding 34 new destinations and 21 countries, Oneworld now has flights to 1,069 airports in 178 countries.
The African carrier, which flew 7.3 million passengers in 2017, joins amid Qatar Airways’ threat to quit Oneworld after falling out with fellow members American Airlines and Qantas.
Similarly, China’s biggest carrier, China Southern Airlines, is expected to seek a place in Oneworld after quitting Skyteam earlier this month.
Seattle-based Alaska Airlines said last week it was keen to join the Oneworld partnership programme, rather than being a full member.
Danny Lee was reporting from New York
This article Cathay Pacific customers to benefit as Moroccan airline joins Oneworld Alliance first appeared on South China Morning Post