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Next time you want to fly your family from the United States to Morocco, you may have to sell your car to afford the tickets. The prices for a round trip ticket from anywhere in the USA to Casablanca is a highway robbery. It is outrages and insulting that the price of a roundtrip from New York to Casablanca is 40 percent more than a similar ticket to Istanbul, Turkey (per Expedia search engine using same dates with one stop). While the price of oil moved considerably lower and the US Dollar stayed pretty much stable, the Royal Air Maroc (RAM) tickets from the US to Morocco went higher during the low season? While I do not claim to be an expert on air travel, common sense points to my earlier statement as an oxymoron. So how come RAM keeps insulting the Moroccans living in the USA by artificially keeping the prices of its tickets so high all year long, contrary to the air industry usual cycles? The simple answers are monopoly and ambivalence.
Let's remember, Moroccan tax payers own 95.95% of the RAM and Air France 3%. To add insult to injury the other airline that has relatively comparable flights from the USA to Morocco is no other than Air France. In fact, Air France is no stranger to price fixing. The dramatic changes to the structure of tickets prices of the Casablanca-Paris flights once Open Sky agreement took affect is a clear indication of how RAM keeps the prices high on the USA-Casablanca segments. Actually, when the RAM and Air France had an almost control of the Casa-Paris flights the prices were high and rigid, but once more airlines forced themselves into the lucrative flights from Morocco to France the prices started to go south with more deals for travelers.
Unfortunately for the Moroccans of the USA, they can not drive or swim to the old country. Since flying is the only way, RAM and Air France hold them and their families' hostages to their arbitrary, puzzling and consumer unfriendly pricing dictate.
Since most Moroccan tax payers can not afford a flight to New York, the Moroccan immigrants are the victims of this injustice. It is time for the Moroccan community to stand up and demand to know why the prices are so high and what is the logic behind the rigidity of the pricing grid. MRE (Moroccans residing overseas) are not cash cows that should be taken advantage of by any unscrupulous government agency. The RAM is a government entity and the Moroccan public has the right to know if it serves the interests of all Moroccans. Asking questions can not be confused with asking for a subsidy or preferential pricing, but rather as protecting the interests of all parties involved including a profitable RAM and a respected consumer.
In an ideal world, the Moroccan ministry of Transportation should look into the pricing of the RAM,. This action will never be taken as it is neither the culture nor a priority. However, the consumers always have options, albeit limited in this case. So next time you make a decision to book a flight from any where in the world to Morocco keep this in mind. For the US based travelers, the Federal Air Carrier Access Act protects the American consumer against unfair and deceptive trade practices by foreign air transportation companies.
Author: Hassan Masiky is a native of Kenitra, Morocco. He graduated from the University of the District of Columbia with a degree in political science in 1991. Upon graduation, Hassan joined the Washington DC based non government organization the Parliamentary Human Rights Foundation (PHRF) where he worked as a consultant for USAID democracy projects in Mexico, Haiti, Republic of Georgia and the European Parliament. After leaving PHRF, Hassan dedicated his time advising Amnesty International USA on African and Middle Eastern affairs and representing the organization in press conferences. Mr. Masiky was a host on several television shows discussing human rights and democracy. He is currently working for a Federal Agency in the Washington area. email@example.com