Royal Air Maroc has staged a dramatic turnaround, underlined this year by what promises to be a record haul of profits and some ambitious expansion plans.

Official figures have yet to be published for the Moroccan flag carrier's latest 1997/8 financial year to October, but it is confident that they will show a near 50% leap in net profits to Dh400 million ($44 million). That represents a margin of over 7% and effectively marks a full recovery from the carrier's traumatic fall from grace four years ago. After recession and the aftermath of the Gulf War, problems came to a head in 1994 when the airline lost $5 million and debts mounted. But Mohammed Hassad, brought in as president, helped transform the airline's performance and modernise its marketing.

Partnerships have been built with Europe's main tour operators. Last year a codeshare deal was signed with Air France to expand services in a French market which represents some 30% of Royal Air Maroc's annual 3 million passengers. This year Hassad has added codeshare deals with Iberia, TWA and Gulf Air, designed to improve long-haul reach into Asia and the Americas.

Frequencies are also being raised to European destinations such as London and Brussels, from flights three times a week to daily.

The airline continues to revamp its 27-strong fleet. Two new Boeing 737-800s arrived last May and three more are due in 1999, with a final two aircraft due by 2001. The airline is also looking into the acquisition of three new widebodies, due to join the fleet after 2001, although a final choice is likely to await a new 10-year fleet study now being drawn up.

Source: Airline Business