In a joint statement issued last week, both Arabian carriers announce plans to partner closely, starting immediately. The deal might negatively affect RAM Cargo’s ties with Qatar Airways
Cargo, market observers expect, since Etihad Cargo could replace the Qatari freight carrier as ally of the Moroccan airline.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both carriers is aimed at knitting networks together, deploying freighters, identifying further areas of cooperation, and upping traffic on several trade lanes. The timeframe mentioned in the MoU for realizing their goals spans nine months, which is an extremely ambitions undertaking given the short period to set them on track.
The protagonists, no real surprise, applauded the signing of the traffic agreement in Casablanca, Morocco. David Kerr, Senior VP Etihad Cargo stated: “This new MoU reinforces Etihad Cargo’s commitment to our customers by providing more capacity and greater frequency to destinations around the world. Together with Royal Air Maroc, we have been working for the past year to deliver improved services for shippers to the U.S., Canada, Brazil and West Africa.”
In a similar statement, RAM’s VP Cargo Amine El Farissi characterized the MoU as a “milestone” for a long-term partnership. Amine went on to say: “Thanks to the geographic and commercial synergies which will result from this game-changing partnership, we will take our performance to the next level, mainly in the African and American markets.” He added to this that Royal Air Maroc Cargo will also benefit from Etihad Cargo’s operational and technological know-how.
Etihad is in a time of upheaval
The signing of the pact comes amid personnel and strategic changes being planned by Etihad. Long-time President and Group CEO James Hogan was forced to resign due to his disastrous decisions to build a group of airlines circling around the Etihad cosmos like satellites. The investments in Alitalia, Air Berlin, Jet Airways and others has cost the Abu Dhabi carrier a fortune without upping the number of passengers and cargo volumes substantially.
Hogan’s Etihad mission ends on 30 June, when he’ll be replaced by Ray Gammell as interim CEO. Similar to Hogan, the Group’s CFO, James Rigney, exits the carrier at the end of this month and will be replaced by Ricky Thirion in this position. Meanwhile, Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei, the Group’s Chairman of the Board, said that EY is in “advanced stages of recruitment for a new Group CEO.”
Will the RAM-QR accord endure?
While Etihad is repositioning itself personally and strategically, Royal Air Maroc will have to reconsider their partnership program as well. After signing the Casablanca agreement it seems very questionable whether RAM will continue its close ties with Qatar Airways Cargo which exist since mid-2015. The political and economic rift parting the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and their allies on one side and the Emirate of Qatar on the other could void the RAM-QR deal.
Royal Air Maroc did not respond to a request of CargoForwarder Global to comment on possible effects for the RAM-QR Cargo accord.