- The budget airliner Air Arabia has confirmed its ambitions to launch a Moroccan subsidiary, using Casablanca Airport as its hub, by signing a contract to buy ten additional A320 aircraft from Europe's Airbus. "Air Arabia Maroc" is to be launched in early 2009.
The Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, based airliner made the announcement of its deal with Airbus yesterday. Air Arabia is a low-cost airline that has experienced rapid growth since it was established five years ago. It currently flies on 44 destinations in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.
Earlier in November, the Abu Dhabi company announced its plans to launch a second hub in Casablanca, establishing a Moroccan subsidiary called Air Arabia Maroc. The new airliner was said to concentrate on links between Morocco and Europe, Morocco and Africa and domestic routes in Morocco. "Work on the Casablanca hub is in full swing and operations will begin early next year," chairman Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Thani thus announced.
With little more detailed information given, and the final decision being subject to government approvals, the announcement at first was met with some scepticism. However, with yesterday's order from Airbus, Air Arabia has made it clear that its plans in Casablanca are advancing.
"Following Air Arabia's expansion plans and the new hub in Morocco, expanding the fleet size is certainly a need. The Airbus A320 aircraft has an outstanding success record throughout the world and is ideal for our needs and those of our customers," the airline's chairman Sheikh Al Thani said in a statement issued yesterday, confirming the progress.
It still remains unsure which concrete routes Air Arabia Maroc are to operate. The new airliner however already counts on a cooperation deal with Regional Air Lines, Morocco's leading budget airliner, indicating that Air Arabia Maroc's network will be complementary to Regional Air's destinations.
Also Sheikh Al Thani has indicated that most new routes from Casablanca will "contribute to the growth of tourism in the Kingdom" of Morocco, meaning that European and Middle East destinations could become dominant.
The Emirates company however also emphasises it will launch new African routes from Casablanca. The city, being Morocco's largest, is already a major hub for flights between Europe and Africa, with Royal Air Maroc operating flights to a large number of sub-Saharan African capitals.
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