Morocco’s flag airline cancels 66 flights in 10 days amid pilots’ strike

Royal Air Maroc (RAM), Morocco’s flag carrier, was forced to cancel 10 more flights on Friday because of a partial strike by the airline’s pilots.

It is the 10th day in a row that the Moroccan airline has to cancel flights due to the pilots’ strike.

The cancellations on Friday were routes between Morocco’s largest airport in Casablanca and the airport of the tourist hub Marrakesh as well as airports in France and Guinea.

Since last Wednesday, the strike has led to the cancellations of 66 flights as well as the delay of dozens of others.

Most of the cancelled flights were between Morocco and European countries, especially France, Spain and Italy. These countries are of crucial importance to the Moroccan airline as they are the main sources of foreign tourists for the North African kingdom and where the highest number of Moroccans live abroad.

The pilots protest last Wednesday led to the cancellations of 2 flights, reaching its peak on Tuesday with a record 12 flights cancelled.

Tensions between RAM and its pilots have intensified since Monday after months-long bilateral talks ended up without an agreement.

The pilots association said in a statement on Friday that a “heavy social climate” prevails over the company, adding that the situation was “exacerbated by 20 months of sterile social dialogue.”

The association demands a rise in wages, increasing monthly holidays from four to five days like their foreign peers working for the company.

In a letter to the pilots association, RAM Director Abdelhamid Addou criticized what he calls “the absence of willingness to see the company’s development,” saying organizing a strike “will have devastating effects” on the company.

According to the leading financial daily L’Economiste, the partial strike has cost the state-owned company at least 2 million U.S. dollars every day.

More than a week into the strike, worries have started to mount. Local media said Minister of Tourism and Air Transport Mohamed Sajid has intervened in an attempt to bring the two parties to the negotiating table again.

The parliament has also reacted to the alarming situation. A lawmaker from the largest opposition Authenticity and Modernity party questioned the tourism minister on the potential effect of the pilots protest on the Moroccan pilgrims heading for Islam holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

The first flight carrying the first group of pilgrims left the country on Thursday without any problems, but it is not clear whether the next fights will be disturbed as the protesting pilots are planning to carry out their strike until their demands are met.

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