Exhausted by repeated closures, Ryanair leaves Morocco for good

The Irish low-cost airline Ryanair has decided to withdraw permanently from Morocco as of next May, reports Maghreb Intelligence. The announcement coincides with the very late decision of the Minister of Tourism Fatim-Zahra Ammor to launch an emergency plan of 2 MMDH to support the tourism sector.

Ryanair blames Morocco for “the successive closures, unjustified in their eyes, of airspace preventing Ryanair from honouring its commitments to the tens of thousands of passengers who use its routes,” Maghreb Intelligence said.

Exasperated by a new and umpteenth closure of Moroccan airspace, Ryanair had decided, in mid-December 2021, to suspend its flights to Morocco until 1 February. But the signals sent in the last 24 hours by the Minister of Health Khalid Ait Taleb, suggesting that Omicron should persist until February, cast doubts on the reopening of the borders at the end of January 2022. An economically untenable situation for an airline whose yield management strategies are mainly based on supply and demand forecasts and planning over several months.

Relations between Ryanair’s top management and the Moroccan authorities have been very tense since almost the beginning of the pandemic in the Kingdom in March 2019, recalls Maghreb Intelligence…

“A lack of clarity and communication from the Moroccan authorities on what to expect beyond their initial travel ban decision of 13 December,” had accused the low-cost airline’s managers, who say they are deploring big losses.

For example, Ryanair claims that by the end of November 2021, Morocco’s flight cancellations have impacted 160,000 of its customers and that a further 230,000 passengers face disruption to their travel plans for the rest of 2021.

A late and insufficient recovery plan without open borders

The government announced on Tuesday the approval of an emergency plan amounting to 2 billion dirhams to support tourism and which includes five measures: 

  1. 1. Extension of the payment of the lump-sum allowance of 2000 dirhams during the first quarter of 2022
  2. Deferral of charges due to the CNSS for 6 months.
  3. moratorium on bank payments. Interim interest will be paid by the State
  4. State assumption of the business tax due by hoteliers in 2020 and 2021
  5. Granting of a State subsidy to the hotel sector, for a global amount of 1 MMDH.

On his Twitter account, the president of the Casablanca-Settat Regional Tourism Council (CRT), Othman Cherif Alami, considered that the launching of the emergency plan is very important but that 2 billion dirhams out of 140 billion dirhams not repatriated in two years is not enough. We are still waiting for the date of the opening of the borders,” he said.

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