Fez Airport on track for one million passengers in 2017; Air Arabia Maroc expands network significantly taking advantage of new terminal
The former capital of Morocco and the country’s second largest city, Fez only has the country’s fourth busiest airport (after Casablanca, Marrakech and Agadir). The airport only accounts for just under 5% of the country’s total air passengers. Last year the airport handled almost 900,000 passengers through a terminal which was designed to cope with just 500,000 passengers per annum. On 29 May, the King of Morocco opened a new terminal at the airport which has a design capacity of up to 2.5 million passengers per year. Responding to this increased capacity, Air Arabia Maroc has just opened a base at the airport and launched eight new routes, bringing to 12 the total number of destinations served by the LCC at the airport.
Passenger growth has been impressive in recent years. Traffic trebled between 2006 and 2010 as a result of Morocco signing an Open-Skies agreement with the EU at the end of 2006. Ryanair began serving Fez in October 2006 from London Luton, with additional service beginning in May 2007 (from Frankfurt Hahn) followed by Girona and Marseille in October 2007. By the summer of 2010 it was operating 11 routes, but it would add only two more in the next three years. However, in April 2013 it made Fez its 56th base and launched seven new routes, helping to reverse the 17% traffic decline the airport had experienced in 2012.
Since then Ryanair’s capacity has remained relatively stable, although according to anna.aero research, it has dropped seven routes from the airport; Alicante, Bologna, Girona, Lille, London Luton, Rome Ciampino and Seville. After adding Toulouse flights last November, this winter will see the ULCC add new links to Bremen and Memmingen, and resume service to Seville.
One million passengers likely in 2017
While passenger numbers were up less than 1% in 2016, in the first four months of 2017 traffic has grown by 13.6% to just over 311,000. To pass one million passengers in 2017, the airport would need to achieve growth of 12%. Given that this growth was achieved before Air Arabia Maroc’s new routes were launched, it pretty much guarantees that the airport will pass the one million mark this year, especially, as according to OAG data, scheduled seat capacity is set to increase by 30% this summer.
Seasonality is not too much of an issue with the airport scoring an “excellent” 1.89 on anna.aero’s Seasonal Variation In Demand calculator. In each of the last three years, August has been the airport’s busiest month.
France is leading country market from Fez
Analysis of OAG schedule data for this summer (S17) compared with last summer (S16) confirms that France is by far the leading country market for flights. It is five times bigger than the next biggest (Spain). Seat capacity to Belgium, Germany, Italy and Morocco are all relatively similar, with the Netherlands (Amsterdam and Eindhoven), the UK (London Gatwick and London Stansted) some way behind.
Ryanair remains the airport’s leading airline this summer serving 16 destinations. Air Arabia Maroc is now in a clear second place. In the last week, it has added eight new routes to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, London Gatwick, Lyon, Marrakech, Rome Fiumicino and Strasbourg. Royal Air Maroc operates just two routes to Casablanca and Paris Orly, while Transavia also serves Paris Orly. TUI Airlines Belgium offers services to Brussels and Brussels Charleroi, while Vueling offers a seasonal link to Barcelona. The Spanish city is served by no fewer than three airlines now with Air Arabia Maroc, Ryanair and Vueling all competing for customers. However, the busiest market remains Paris. Here, Royal Air Maroc and Transavia serve Orly, Air Arabia Maroc connects with Paris CDG, while Ryanair offers a three times weekly service to Paris Beauvais.