Royal Air Maroc to abandon Boeing for Airbus.

Position:Business and Finance - Airbus Industrie's chances of getting a supply contract with the Moroccan airline

Royal Air Maroc (RAM), long associated with Boeing, which has provided the lion's share of its fleet, is preparing to shift allegiance to Airbus Industrie in the coming months, say sources close to Royal Air Maroc chairman Mohamed Hassad.

Mohamed Assad, recently in France for talks with French finance and aviation officials, is known to favour a changeover to Airbus, notably as a function of his airline's increasingly important links with the French state and its national carrier Air France.

Hassad has announced that his company will be spending dirhams (Dh) 3.4 billion ($340 million) over the next four years on a re-fleeting programme which should turn RAM into what he calls "one of the world's youngest fleets". The re-fleeting will also increase capacity by 40 per cent, and significantly improve RAM's image as the Moroccan airline undergoes privatisation which will see it open up between 30-40 per cent of its capital to private investors, inside and outside of Morocco.

But, Hassad stressed, this is only the beginning of a multi-stage re-fleeting. When the present phase is completed in the year 2001, Royal Air Maroc plans to invite bids for the supply of additional aircraft, which will be acquired as part of a medium and long term investment programme. The overall programme should last 10 years, to 2009, says Hassad.

The airline is in the process of receiving its new Boeing B737-800s and B737-700s. In July alone, RAM took delivery of one 737-700 and two B737-800s and according to Hassad, the airline should be taking delivery of another B737-800 in February and two additional B737-700s in March 2000.

The decision to go with Airbus depends largely on RAM's upcoming...

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