Royal Air Maroc, pilots reach agreement

Agreement between Morocco’s national carrier, pilots’ association brings more than three weeks of flight disruptions to an end.

LONDON – Morocco’s national carrier reached an agreement with its pilots after more than three weeks of serious disruptions that have hit Royal Air Maroc’s business hard and affected passengers’ holidays.

Both parties announced Wednesday in a joint statement that “the RAM and the Moroccan Association of Pilots (AMPL) welcome the conclusion of this agreement which emanates from their awareness of the major economic and social issues of the country and the essential role of tourism.”

“The agreement also reflects the awareness of both parties of the importance of the pilots’ professional corps, the imperative need to maintain optimal working conditions in relation to their particular professional environment,” added the statement without elaborating further details on the fruit of the negotiations.

Up to ten flights a day have been cancelled since July 20 during the peak holiday season, forcing some holidaymakers to reschedule their flights amid chaos at some European airports.

Negotiations between RAM and AMPL have been deadlocked since the beginning of August after months-long talks failed to reach an agreement over the association’s demands.

Several pilots posted a common message on their Facebook pages stating that their major demand, which is the only solution to this state of under-strength that forces them to work for years to the limit of regulation, was the reopening of the National School of Pilots (ENPL).

They stressed that the school provides a training of excellence where an elite issued from modest families is formed “free of charge.”

“We refuse that the training becomes paid for (more than a million dirhams! ($110.000) and is thus accessible only to the wealthy. If that had been the case 25 years ago, I would never have been able to integrate it and I would never have become a pilot. I will fight with all my strength so that other bright children without great financial means can have the same luck,” said the message.

In 2014, the government forced RAM to close its school which used to form between 40 and 60 pilots a year. The national carrier had to recruit foreigners and delegate the training of its future pilots to the National School of Civil Aviation (ENAC) in Toulouse to offset its growing needs.

Many pilots have been lured by Gulf airline companies’ offers, leaving RAM understaffed.