Article by: James Field – Trip Report & Photos by: Cody Diamond
LONDON – Royal Air Maroc, the Moroccan national carrier, has launched its first ever Miami-Casablanca route this week.
This gives Miami International Airport the first passenger flights to Africa for the first time since 2000 since South African Airways moved to Ft. Lauderdale / Hollywood Airport which was eventually discontinued. Royal Air Maroc is the newest inductee into the Oneworld alliance. Miami’s American Airlines Oneworld hub, along with fellow alliance member LATAM opens up huge connection possibilities throughout the carrier’s Lain America and the Caribbean networks.
Commenting on the inauguration was Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez who offered congratulations to the airline on the route.
“I offer my congratulations and thanks to Royal Air Maroc for making Miami-Dade County its first destination in Florida,”
“Casablanca is one of the most historic, picturesque and influential cities in Africa, and we are proud to establish this groundbreaking connection between our two regions.”
The route is serviced by a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, offering 18 seats in Business Class and 255 in Economy.
It currently runs on a thrice-weekly service, offering over 42,500 seats in capacity every year.
Onboard The Inaugural… By Cody Diamond
Airways was invited aboard to join Royal Air Maroc (RAM) onboard its inaugural service from Casablanca (CMN) to Miami (MIA).
The first flight from CMN to MIA was on Wednesday, April 3. The new service will operate on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday using Royal Air Maroc’s new flagship two-class Boeing 787-9 aircraft that seat 302 passengers.
RAM currently operates two 787-9s, with two more on order. Both airplanes carry the new and updated RAM livery. RAM also operates five 787-8s that seat 274 passengers.
Our airplane for the flight would be CN-RAM, the the airline’s first 787-9 to be delivered, having been built in November of 2018.
The inaugural flight is Miami’s first nonstop link to the continent of Africa since South African Airways ceased service to Miami in 2000.
As a result, Miami now has direct flights to five of the seven continents, only excluding Australia and Antarctica!
Departure for Royal Air Maroc Flight 204 (AT 204) to Miami was scheduled for 16:35 local time. Scheduled to arrive at 20:20 local in Miami, return flight AT 205 would depart back for Casablanca just a few short hours later.
The flight is optimized for connections to Morocco’s leisure destinations of Fez, Marrakesh, and Tangier, as well as continental Europe and destinations in the Middle East.
The celebratory departure event in Miami included several dignitaries, including Her Highness Princess Lalla Joumala, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United States, Miami-Dade County Commission Chairwoman Audrey Edmonson, Miami-Dade County Commissioner and International Trade Consortium Board Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Miami International Airport Director and CEO Lester Sola, Royal Air Maroc CEO Abdelhamid Addou, and Jennifer Rasamimanana, United States Consul General in Casablanca.
Upon boarding the bus to travel to the hard stand from which AT 204 would depart, all passengers were given a welcome aboard Royal Air Maroc neck pillow, along with a first flight certificate commemorating the first Royal Air Maroc flight to Miami.
The inaugural flight was completely booked in Business Class and relatively full in Economy Class as well. The atmosphere as we boarded the flight was fantastic, with many leisure
The Captain made a brief welcome aboard announcement in both English and French and announced a flight time of 8 hours and 40 minutes to Miami.
Boarding was efficient using several Cobus busses from the terminal to the hardstand and the doors closed early at approximately 16:32.
Engines were started at 16:34 and at 16:50, RAM 204 lifted off from Casablanca’s Runway 35R, bound for Miami.
On takeoff, we passed CN-RGA, RAM’s recently retired former flagship 747-400, parked on the ramp still impeccably cleaned and in airworthy condition.
Additionally, RAM’s only 747-200 was parked just a short distance away and now is at the Royal Air Maroc Academy and is used for training and is also in excellent condition.
As the new flagship of the fleet, RAM’s 787-9 has incredible ramp presence in the new livery of Royal Air Maroc.
Bright red and green colors really bring out a vibrant, exotic, and fresh identity to the flag carrier. The 787’s all feature comprehensive in-seat in flight entertainment with individual USB charging ports for every passenger.
Climbing out over Casablanca, we made a slight left turn. After coasting out, the cabin crew handed out headsets and an amenity kit in economy and the excellent inflight service began. Royal Air Maroc has been rated a Four Star Airline by Skytrax.
Shortly after level off, lunch was served with a chicken or beef choice, along with a full beverage service.
A light snack was served prior to arrival as the sun began to set, having chased the sun all afternoon across the mid-Atlantic. We initially cruised at 36,000 feet and ultimately step climbed up to 39,000 feet.
We started our descent for cloudy Miami just after 20:00 local time and made our approach to MIA’s Runway 9, touching down at 20:35.
After receiving a water cannon salute, we parked at Gate E31, having just completed the first flight to Miami from Africa in nearly two decades!
With more 787-9s still on order, the B767 fleet will soon be retired. In late 2018, RAM retired the former flagship and only Boeing 747-400, CN-RGA.
Royal Air Maroc is the flag carrier of the Kingdom of Morocco and operates a fleet of over 50 aircraft to destinations across Africa, Europe, North America, South America, and the Middle East.
The airline operates a fleet of Boeing 737s, 767s, 787s, and Embraer ERJ-190s, in addition to a fleet of ATR-72-600s that operate for Royal Air Maroc Express.
It is an exciting time for Royal Air Maroc as it expands its international network with an increasingly modern fleet and it will be interesting to see what else is in store for the airport as it continues its growth strategy.