The Tourist Echo: What are the booking trends for Royal Air Morocco since the reopening of the Moroccan borders?
Ilham Kazzini: We are very satisfied, because the markets reacted strongly. It is clear that not everyone reacted equally strongly, but the French market reacted very positively. Since reopening, we have almost regained the level of reservations we saw in the same period in 2019. The recovery exceeded our expectations. We thought that after such a long absence, the market would have adopted other reflexes.
Do you see any new trends emerging as a result of the pandemic?
Ilham Kazzini: What is really striking is the continued strong presence of reservations at the last minute. Our customers buy on average 10 days before departure. It is still a very short deadline. However, we find that it tends to get longer. Our prices for reservations for the Easter holidays or the month of June, for example, are visibly advancing. This shows that the market is once again projecting itself several months ahead. The fear associated with the health situation and possible border closures is gradually disappearing. We have a feeling that the page in the customers’ consciousness is turning.
To which Moroccan destinations has the French market gone first?
Ilham Kazzini: Marrakech remains the preferred destination for the French market. We have relaunched a fairly large offer with two to three daily flights between Paris and Marrakech and up to seven during school holiday periods. There are obviously many other connections from the provinces: Marseille, Toulouse, Lyon … We could increase our sail to Marrakech as to other destinations such as Agadir, Fez, Oujda or Tangier for example if the demand is real. We are adapting to the market and we are in the process of organizing the redistribution of our fleet for the summer season according to the routes that will be most in demand by our customers.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine risks pushing the price of a barrel of oil. Is this a threat as recovery threatens?
Ilham Kazzini: Like all airlines, this is an issue that concerns us and that we follow closely. In recent days, the rise in the price of the barrel has been sharp and rapid. This is not a normal situation, we hope the market will correct itself. And that this subject will not become the grain of sand that comes to stop the recovery.
With an increase in ticket prices?
Ilham Kazzini: That’s not what we want. But our handles are not many. If, unfortunately, the situation continues, we will probably have to raise prices. At the moment, this is not the case, because the desire to travel is so great that it allows us to compensate for this price increase. That is what keeps us optimistic. But the air has never been a long quiet river, so we are preparing to anticipate any kind of crisis.
Has direct sales increased during the pandemic?
Ilham Kazzini: When travel agencies were closed for many months, direct sales via digital increased. They even weighed up to 50% of our activity. But the situation tends to normalize. In a typical year, they represent only 30%. The rest is done by our distribution partners: travel agencies, tour operators … During the pandemic, we worked hard to stay connected to B2B. We want to be with our partners in the tourism industry in this recovery.
Is the recovery today accompanied by commercial supply to stimulate demand?
Ilham Kazzini: This is not necessarily a purely price issue. We continue to animate our network of partners with various commercial operations, such as the new Family Pack, which allows you to take advantage of various benefits (prices, luggage, reception, etc.) for families of three people or more. We are also launching Africa Days, promotions on all flights to Africa from Europe and via our Casablanca hub. This operation is more aimed at diasporas than at French customers. But we also note that our hub is once again becoming a natural stopover for passengers in transit to Senegal, Mali or even Côte d’Ivoire.