Ryanair plans to boost its summer traffic in and out of Morocco by a third in 2024 and fly 9 million passengers throughout the year, reflecting the "huge potential" of its sole African destination, a senior executive said on Wednesday.
The low-cost pioneer, Europe's largest airline by passenger numbers, will operate domestic flights in Morocco for the first time next year, connecting nine cities, while also adding another 24 international routes to eight European countries.
It will add two new aircraft at Tangier airport, which will become the Irish airline's fourth base in Morocco.
Moroccan officials hope to attract 17.5 million tourists by 2026, up from 11 million last year. In 2019, Morocco had 13 million visitors.
'Really Big Market'
"I just think there's huge potential," said Eddie Wilson, the head of Ryanair DAC, the largest airline in the group, noting Morocco's relative lack of seasonality due to the amount of its diaspora that regularly fly home and its growth as an off-season weekend destination for European tourists.
"The money they are investing in tourism and in industry down there... I just see it as a really, really big market for us," he told Reuters in a telephone interview.
Wilson said securing licences to fly domestic routes in a non-European country was an achievement for a European airline and would help Ryanair better utilise aircraft, while also tapping into domestic tourism among the growing middle class.
Internal travel has been a growth driver for the airline in other countries. Ryanair generates more than a fifth of its revenues in its number one market of Italy on domestic routes, and claims a market share in excess of 40%.
'Feet To The Fire'
He added that its Moroccan schedule would not be impacted by any delays in the delivery of new aircraft. Ryanair is concerned that up to 10 of 57 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft due to be delivered by next summer may be delayed.
Wilson said Ryanair are keeping Boeing's "feet to the fire" and that the situation is not getting worse.