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Low-cost airlines soar above ferry market in Europe and Morocco

Rédigé par , le Jeudi 12 Avril 2012 - Lu 7358 fois

low cost airlines in competion with ferries (photo FD)
low cost airlines in competion with ferries (photo FD)
MOROCCO / EUROPE. There’s no escape! For five years, Morocco has been witnessing low-cost fleets from Spain and France landing on its tarmac. The ferries had better watch out!

The main criticisms levelled at passenger transport between Europe and Morocco can be summed up in three ways: total travel time (to arrival at destination), low supply and cost. This particular ‘Book of Complaints’ was quickly closed. If cost was still a sticking point with only Royal Air Maroc, Air France and Iberia offering a service, low-cost airlines and their hyper-competitive fares quickly swept aside these worries. The only obstacle remains the prohibitive cost of baggage transport on low-cost airlines.

Even though only 14.4 km separates Europe from Morocco at the narrowest part of the Strait of Gibraltar, going by sea is not necessarily the shortest route. Pending the undersea railway tunnel (a real sea serpent since 1869) between Tarifa in Andalusia, and Malabata near Tangier, flying is often still the quickest means of transport between Spain and Morocco. In fact, after landing on Moroccan soil, tourists often have to travel by road to their final destination. One notable exception is passengers departing from Algeciras to get to Tangier, who only have to travel 30 minutes by ferry, thanks to the new Tanger-Med port.

Huge choice at low-cost

Low-cost airlines are spreading their wings in the market. Morocco’s Jet4You (which has just merged with Belgium’s Jetairfly), Air Arabia Maroc and European airlines Ryanair, EasyJet and Vueling, and, since March 2012 the new Spanish kid on the block, Iberia Express (a subsidiary of Iberia), have been sharing Mediterranean crossings. They connect the main Moroccan cities from twenty-three Spanish airports. It is thus possible to reach Marrakech from Barcelona, Bilbao, Ibiza, Mallorca, Menorca, Santiago de Compostela, La Coruña and Vigo.

In France, Marseille fired the first shot with the inauguration, in November 2006, of its mp2 terminal, Europe’s first terminal devoted entirely to low-cost airlines, the Southern French rushed into these Mediterranean air corridors to reach Casablanca, Marrakech and Fez with Jet4You and Ryanair.

Europe’s first low-cost airline pushes the envelope by opening up Agadir, Tangier, Nador and Oujda this spring. That is, seven destinations in North Africa, reached in less than two hours from Marseille. The nearby airport of Montpellier serves four cities with Air Arabia (Casablanca, Fez and more recently Nador and Tangier). Bordeaux airport connects with Casablanca, Marrakech and Agadir on Jet4You.

And if that were not enough, even Air France is joining in, slashing prices from its new regional bases located in Marseille, Nice and Toulouse and shortly Bordeaux. A flight from Marseille to Marrakech costs €80, for example!

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