Morocco’s airports grow passenger numbers by 9% in 2013; easyJet and Ryanair lead way with most new routes

Morocco's 'Open-Sky' agreement with Europe

Morocco’s ‘Open-Sky’ agreement with Europe continues to attract new carriers and routes with passenger numbers up 9.2% in 2013 to 16.5 million. To reach 30 million by 2020 would require an average annual growth rate of 8.9% for the next seven years.

Morocco’s airports handled a record 16.5 million passengers in 2013, thanks to traffic growth of 9.2%. This followed a disappointing 2012 when demand fell by 3.6%, the first such drop in a decade, a by-product, most likely, of the social unrest seen in much of North Africa that year. The country saw airport passenger numbers double between 2003 and 2009, in part thanks to an ‘open-skies’ agreement with the EU, which encouraged many of Europe’s LCCs to enter the market. In April 2013 Ryanair even went so far as to open not one, but two bases in Morocco, at Fez (one aircraft) and Marrakech (two aircraft).

Chart: Moroccan airport traffic 1995-2013 - Annual passengers (millions)

Source: ONDA

In 2013, monthly passenger numbers were up year-on-year in every month except February and July, with traffic growing by more than 15% in August, October and December. Such high growth rates have not been seen since the end of 2010. Flights to Europe (+16%) accounted for 72% of all passengers at Moroccan airports in December, while domestic traffic (+26%) represented a further 10%.

Chart: Moroccan airports traffic development - Year-on-year chage in monthly passengers: 1/08 to 12/13

Source: ONDA

Rabat reports rapid rise of 38%

All of Morocco’s eight main airports reported traffic growth in 2013, ranging from Rabat (+38%) to Nador (up just 1.6%). The country’s two busiest airports, Casablanca and Marrakech, which handle over 70% of all Moroccan airport traffic in 2013, reported traffic growth of 5.2% and 13.5% respectively.

Chart: Top 8 Moroccan airports - Annual passengers 2011-13 (millions)

Source: ONDA

Marrakech attracts most new LCC routes

Comparing schedule data for July 2014 with July 2013, reveals that several foreign airlines have either already started, or plan to start, new services, mostly from European airports. The notable exception is Saudi Arabian Airlines which resumes flights between Riyadh and Casablanca at the beginning of April. The following table summarises the new routes (since July 2013) that will be operated with at least two weekly flights this summer.

Airport Airline Destination Start date WF
Casablanca (CMN) Saudi Arabian Airlines Riyadh (RUH) 1 April 2014 3 France Paris Orly (ORY) 3 July 2014 4
Marrakech (RAK) easyJet Toulouse (TLS) 29 October 2013 3 Rotterdam (RTM) 29 October 2013 3
easyJet Bristol (BRS) 21 December 2013 2
Bordeaux (BOD) 1 April 2014 3
Nice (NCE) 1 April 2014 3
Ryanair Dublin (DUB) 2 April 2014 2 France Strasbourg (SXB) 21 April 2014 2
Agadir (AGA) Monarch Airlines London Gatwick (LGW) 2 May 2014 2
Manchester (MAN) 3 May 2014 2
Tangier (TNG) TAP Portugal Lisbon (LIS) 27 October 2013 5
Rabat (RBA) Ryanair Madrid (MAD) 6 November 2013 3
Girona (GRO) 7 November 2013 2
London Stansted (STN) 5 February 2014 3
Source: new routes database and Innovata / Diio Mi for July 2013 and July 2014

Ryanair’s latest Moroccan service, between London Stansted and Rabat, launched last week bringing to six the number of destinations it serves from the airport, the others being Brussels Charleroi, Girona, Madrid, Marseille, Paris Beauvais.

In addition, SWISS launched its only Moroccan service last October, operating twice-weekly between Geneva and Marrakech until the end of May. According to schedule data the route is then suspended for the summer months before resuming in mid-September.

SWISS launched twice-weekly flights from Geneva to Marrakech at the start of the winter 2013/14 season

Proving that it’s not just LCCs that are taking advantage of growing demand for flights to/from Morocco, SWISS launched twice-weekly flights from Geneva to Marrakech at the start of the winter 2013/14 season.


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