Thursday, September 21, 2017

Royal Air Maroc plans Belgrade service


Serbia and Morocco are speeding up procedures for the establishment of nonstop flights after Royal Air Maroc said it was prepared to launch flights to Belgrade. The two sides signed a revised Air Service Agreement last Friday, updating the pact which regulates air traffic between the two nations for the first time since 1964. The Moroccan Ambassador to Serbia, Mohammed Amine Belhaj, confirmed that the kingdom's national carrier has expressed interest to introduce flights between Casablanca and the Serbian capital during the 2018 summer season. "The new flights will certainly increase the number of Serbian tourists visiting Morocco and vice versa. In addition to the launch of this service, we are exploring the possibility of charter flights with Serbian tour operators. There is demand from both sides", Mr Belhaj said.

Last week, the Moroccan Minister for Tourism, Mohammed Sajid, held talks in Belgrade with the Serbian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, Rasim Ljajić, in a bid to boost cooperation between the two countries in various sectors including tourism. During the meeting, the two sides welcomed the signing of the Air Service Agreement and called on the private sector and tourism professionals to explore all opportunities for cooperation. Furthermore, the two agreed for the development of an expanded cooperation programme in the tourism sector. Mr Ljajić will visit Morocco before the end of this year to finalise details over the establishment of flights between the two countries.

There have never been nonstop services between Belgrade and any point in Morocco. The north African nation had strained relations with the former Yugoslavia due to the latter's recognition of the breakaway territory of Western Sahara (Sahrawi Republic) as an independent state. However, Serbia reversed the recognition in 2004. Currently, Belgrade Airport is served only by two African carriers on a year-round basis, with Tunis Air maintaining services from Tunis and Air Cairo from Hurghada. Last year, Air Serbia said it saw potential in North Africa as a possible market in the future, noting that it is home to destinations that are within a two-and-a-half hour radius from Belgrade, which could be served by the upcoming Airbus A320neo aircraft. On the other hand, Royal Air Maroc boasts a fleet of 56 aircraft and an extensive domestic and international network. It has a broad codeshare agreement in place with Air Serbia's part-owner Etihad Airways.

119 comments:

  1. Are visas required for Morocco?

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    1. Yes but process to get them is very easy.

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    2. You get a visa in half a day.

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    3. true dat. it is an easy process and great embassy staff.
      however i still doubt there is a real market between serbia and morocco. the country is great, but for me you still need to be much more adventurist than most people to go there.

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    4. AnonymousSeptember 21, 2017 at 9:03 AM

      There are loads of Moroccans in Croatia, Zagreb, entering the country illegally as of late. It seems they're using Balkan route to get to Croatia, over 600 illegal entries in 2016 alone.

      Visa requirements should be made stricter if Serbia doesn't want to end up with well lets just say too many overstay visitors.

      Morocco is a lovely country and I've visited the country few times, highly recommend, but they seem to have loads of economic migrants coming to Spain, Italy and now using Balkan route to get to the EU.

      Croatia under current government might opt out to do what Hungary did and build a fence along Serbian and Bosnian bother to prevent illegal entry. Bulgaria, Macedonia and Greece have already done the same along Turkish border, in case of Macedonia along Greek and Bulgarian and now Albanian border.

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  2. Good to hear! I am surprise how RM can sustain flight to Marocco, while airlines like Easyjet cancel Geneva because it is unprofitable with such a huge Serbian diaspora in Switzerland. Some things seem to be odd sometimes.

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    1. You have some oddities in BEG like Belavia flying from Minsk to Belgrade for years. Or Israiar, Arkia and Air Serbia all flying to Tel Aviv.

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    2. I don't know what you are on about @9.04 but easy jet isn't cancelling flights between Geneva and Belgrade. They load their schedule for the summer for these flights around October (same as last year). That's why you can currently buy tickets only until the last day of the winter season.

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    3. Easyjet put its first half of summer schedule 2018 on its website yesterday and Belgrade is no more available since 23.03.18
      I wrote them a mail to aks why and they answered that the line is temporary stopped.
      On 27. Sept the second half of their summer schedule will be put on sale.

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    4. Bad news. U2 is great company and it would be shame not o continue to fly to BEG.

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    5. Just a note regarding easyJet from the airline's spokesperson:

      "We are not cancelling the route and it will be uploaded on the website shortly".

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  3. BEG postaje pravo cvoriste. Bojim se da ce linija proci slicno kao Tapova, pa im savetujem usku saradnju sa Air Serbiom.

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    1. The good thing is that RAM has E190 aircraft in its fleet with around 95 seats which they could use. Arkia sends them from time to time to BEG as well.

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    2. Can an E190 make this route?

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    3. Yes without issue.

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    4. AT have been deploying them on some pretty long legs out of CMN in the past to places such as TXL, OXB, OUA, CPH... its their perfect route-opener and will likely be seen here at BEG, at least initially. Actually saw one of their E90s at FCO few days back.

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    5. Would be the perfect aircraft to BEG to start with.

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  4. Could be very interesting, do Serbs need visas for Morocco?

    They could even scoop some transit passengers to points in Africa, Brazil and even the US.

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    1. Yes visas are required but its very easy to get them. You just go to the embassy and they give them to you straight away.

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    2. A step too many compared to Egypt and Tunisia where no visa is necessary.

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    3. True but with the safety situation in those country still unstable people are looking for alternatives. Who knows, maybe they abolish visas.

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    4. Damn, is it so easy to get one in Belgrade? In Berlin you need to show them tons of papiri

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    5. I agree with the Anon 9:55. As someone living in Morocco for three years, I had a lot of people visiting and you do need quite a few papers to get the visa (hotel booking etc). Nevertheless, the country is really safe and amazing to explore

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    6. Do Moroccans need visas to Serbia?

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    7. The way Serbia is going probably not for long :D they just abolished visas for Vietnamese citizens.

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    8. And they also abolished visas to Iranian last week too.

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    9. That's just crazy. How doesn't the EU react?

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    10. Very simple, Serbia is not a part of EU yet, chapter on foreign relations has still not been started in the accession negotiations... milking it while the cow is still

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    11. Yes but from what I read the foreign relations chapter will be opened next, probably by the end of the year. What happens then?

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    12. And just to note, I think it's a smart strategy by Serbia but it makes me think it will have some issues with it with the EU.

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    13. Why would there be issues? Croatia didn't have to reinstate visas for Russians until the accession itself, for example. If the Schengen/EU borders are functioning properly, we can let in whoever we bloody well please.

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    14. Is there the same EU visa policy that is applicable for all EU member states?

      As it is not the case you cannot expect from non-member country to follow non existing visa policy.

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    15. No issues with visas as long Serbia is not in Schengen Zone. And that will take a number of years to happen. It will be more about the politics. If Serbia intends to join EU then Serbia will be pushed to follow the politics of the leading EU nations. And they have means to make it happen :)

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    16. The same as it is pushed to implement sanctions agains Russia

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    17. Russia is one aspect of the story that has very little to do with Morocco and other similar countries.But not to go into politics too much, I would expect that Serbia can remove visas from any county it wants as long as Germany and France do not have anything against that :)

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  5. I know a lot of people who went to Morocco this summer. Seems to be more interesting to people now that Tunisia is off the radar for most people.

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    1. How did they travel to Morocco?

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    2. Hot air balloons and camels!

      For your information, Morocco is very well connected with all European hubs and is much more advanced place compared to typical Serbian beliefs.

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    3. I meant with which airlines, calm down.

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    4. Interestingly almost all went with Vueling to Barcelona and then with them to either Casablanca or Marrakesh but they had to buy to separate tickets. Some went with Alitalia.

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    5. i know for 2 options, both via italy:

      1. Alitalia BEG-FCO-CMN, good connection, but idiots lost my bag, which i recovered two days later at Fes

      2. some of my friends reached milan with some lcc that was flying BEG-MXP, spent a night there and then took an easy jet to marakech

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    6. Alitalia loosing bags, surprise surprise

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    7. We went to Morocco for a wedding and upon our return, Royal Air Maroc lost our luggage and ruined the trip.

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  6. While it's good news I'm not sure there will be enough demand but who knows. If Tunis Air can sustain flights for the entire year maybe RAM can too.

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    1. Remember that Serbian people travel to Tunis during the winter too. That's how they sustain the flights.

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    2. Plus I think it's just once per week during the winter season.

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    3. Don't forget Egypt, yearround flights.

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    4. ^ I hope that one day soon Egypt Air will start flights to BEG. They were interested a few years ago. Air Cairo is their subsidiary but I would still prefer flights to Cairo with EgyptAir. Gives people a lot more choice and options.

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    5. Many people travel to Morocco during the winter, not summer.

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    6. Do not forget that Tunisian passport holders do not need visas for Serbia.
      Therefore Tunisair has also many passengers who come to visit Serbian capital and not only Serbians going to Tunis.

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  7. I think Morocco is a missed opportunity for Air Serbia and I doubt those neos are coming.

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    1. They have trouble sustaining flights to Istanbul, let alone Morocco.

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  8. Nice. The more airlines the better.

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  9. Nice. Out of the box. Thumbs up.

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  10. Budapest is getting Agadir and Marrakesh flights this winter.

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    1. Yes, Wizz Air to Agadir and Ryanair to Marrakesh.

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  11. I think that even visa is easy to get, it is still a process. And many will point it to another destination. When the visa is abolished it will another story, until then I doubt the success of this route!

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    1. Until 2009 Serbian people had to get a visa to enter Greece but they still went. But I agree with you, if they want larger volumes of tourists visas will have to be abolished.

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    2. @9.25 +1

      People are not very keen on visas anymore (especially if you need to go an embassy)

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    3. True and it also decreases interest for people who live outside of Belgrade. For example someone from Novi Sad probably wouldn't bother driving back and forth to Belgrade to get a visa at the embassy if they can go somewhere else without one.

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    4. +1 @ Anon 10:15AM

      same goes for all non EU ex YU (Bosnians get the visa in Zagreb, Macedonians in Sofia, Montenegrins in Belgrade)

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    5. Exactly. Why would someone who wants to go to that part of the world choose Morocco (including visa costs + time) and not Tunisia where you can avoid all of it?

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    6. Maybe because of safety and to discover something new and different.

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    7. Sure, it is an option but in that case you could also travel to Cape Verde or Canarian Islands. Much safer destinations.

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    8. Except for the costs.

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  12. Well I read here a few months ago that the Ministry in charge of Transport in Serbia said one of their aims was to have flights to Morocco and here we go :)

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  13. A few years ago no one would have thought that there is a market big enough to sustain 3 different airlines flying between Israel and Serbia. This summer, Israeli tourists are the number one tourists in Belgrade. They even overtook the Turks. So you never know with these things.

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  14. Anyone flown with RAM? What kind of airline are they?

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    1. Flew with them from ORY to CMN - 738, quite dirty cabin, cold-faced crew, inedible food, really nothing special. The return flight was badly delayed, little info provided, plane a bit cleaner but crew were very rude towards African passengers. Expected much more.

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    2. Sums up my experience with Tunis Air as well :D

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    3. I have flown a couple of times and my experiences are as follows:

      CMN-VIL - May 2015; ATR 72; clean, almost empty, on time
      VIL-CMN - May 2015; ATR 72; dirty, delayed 2 hours
      CMN-MAD - Nov 2015; Brand new 737, on time, all male flight attendants, clean cabin
      CMN-ALG - May 2016; old 787-800, delayed 5 hours, dirtiest cabin I have ever been in
      ALG-CMN - May 2016; old 737, dirty, 2 hours delay
      CMN-MAD - June 2016; Brand new 737, on time, all male flight attendants, clean cabin

      to sum up, for me it depended on the destination :)

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    4. Interesting, thanks :)

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    5. What are their fares like?

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    6. We flew with them in July and they lost my daughter's backpack. It's been a nightmare dealing with them as we can not seem to get anyone from baggage claim to contact us.

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  15. What would be the duration of these flights?

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    1. Around three and half hours.

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  16. More and more airlines coming to BEG, more and more competition for Air Serbia. They better start growing soon or they will be squeezed out of many markets.

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    1. I don't think it's legacy airlines such as this one which prove to be the big competition to Air Serbia. It's mostly LCCs which are killing them.

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    2. Yeah I'm not sure Turkish Airlines would agree with that.

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    3. Ok but that was the only legacy carrier they lost to. I don't think they retreated from any other market because of competition from legacy airlines.

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    4. This is surely not competition to JU as Air Serbia had no intention covering that part of the world.

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    5. They did at one point. They planned to start Cairo flights. Also in the text it says that they see North Africa as a potential market.

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    6. Sure, but Cairo is closer to Belgrade and has much more passengers than Casablanca. Even Vucic was surprised RAM wants to fly to BEG as this country was on not on JU radar

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  17. Its time Morocco to abandon visas for non-EU citinzens of Ex-Yu !!! Its a shame they stil keep it (I guess our "diplomats" are not even aware of this)

    LCC's have discovered Morocco, it can work from ExYu too

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  18. Can't they just introduce visa on arrival if it is a relatively easy process to get a visa?

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    1. Morocco doesn't have visa on arrival for anyone

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    2. An ok. Maybe they could introduce an e-visa facility like the Indians have recently for Serbian passport holders.

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    3. it would be amazing, but I doubt the Moroccans would be willing to go that far

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  19. Morocco will also soon make an air service agreement with Montenegro. Since Montenegro Airlines does have flights to places like Yerevan and Baku, maybe they would consider Morocco too.

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    1. That's a bit of a stretch.

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    2. Why? Like I said there are regular charter flights to Baku and Yerevan. I don't see why this couldn't work either.

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  20. Great news and great cooperation between two governments to make these flights happen.

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    1. The Serbian government has been quite proactive in the aviation sector and has actually managed to bring quite a few airlines.

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  21. Cancel visas please!

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    1. It would be nice,but I am afraid there might be some other reason why it has not been done by now...

      I remember that during migrant crisis many people with Moroccan passports wanted to pass through Serbia in order to reach western EU countries as economic refugees.

      Let's also not forget that terrorists in Barcelona had Moroccan ethnic background.

      I would personally like it to happen, but if GoS abolished visas with Iran but not with Morooco maybe there is some good reason for it.

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    2. Here is problem of reciprocity. If Serbia won't cancel visas for Morocco, they won't do it one-way either.

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    3. Unfortunately true.
      In this case actually visas abolishing (even one-way by their side) would be much more beneficial for Morocco as on that way Morocco would be visited by more of Serbian tourists. And that is exactly what they want to achieve by opening Casablanca-Belgrade route (apart from some minor transport passengers).
      They already have similar or maybe even the same visa regime with EU countries (abolished visas for EU nationalities but their passport holders need visa for EU countries).
      They could simply implement same logic for non EU ex Yu countries

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    4. Morocco did not seek reciprocity from other countries. It does not require visas from EU, Russian, Canadian, American, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican etc. visitors. So all it takes is a bit of diplomacy on Serbian side.

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  22. Dolaskom Royal Air Maroc povecava se znacaj i uvecava potencijal Aerodroma Nikola Tesla. Buduca koncesijonar ce udvostruciti kapacitete i mogucnosti uvecanja saobracaja kao osnove za rast comercijalne avijacije za za ovaj vek. Povecanjem broja avio kompanija i broja letova jesu zavisni od ekonomskog razvoja. Ali su i osnov razvoja buducnosti Srbije.
    Radovan Marinkovic
    Kraljevo

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  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  24. Perhaps this could work with a low cost airline but I doubt it will have success with an airline like Air Maroc.

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  25. What everyone seems to be forgetting is that Royal Air Maroc would not be relying purely on P2P, but also passengers heading to Brazil, where they tend to be very competitive.

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  26. Ajde bre...kad ce vise British airways i Air France da se vrate u Beograd.... to je vest, a ne Air Maroc...ah... zadovoljavamo se sitnicama...Na sta smo spali..

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    1. BA i AF ne u narednih 10 godina, sigurno!

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  27. Ne bih se slozio.

    AF trenutno ima jako dobar po njih code-share sa JU i trenutni status quo izgleda da svima odgovara. JU nema konkurenciju (sem W6) a AF preko JU dobija putnike za dalje letove preko CDG.

    Sa druge strane izgleda da BA nema interesa za BEG. Koliko mi je poznato njih je svojevremeno cak i JAT nadjacao u pogledu broja putnika a tek sad im se ne otvara linija kad je i W6 prisutan.
    S obzirom na njihov smanjen nivo usluge ne mislim da BEG ista, sem eventualno nekog prestiza, gubi time sto BA ne leti za Beograd.

    Sa druge strane niti jedna avio kompanija ne obavlja letove izmedju Srbije i Maroka i zato bi otvaranje ove linije bilo dobro doslo za srpsku prestonicu.

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  28. Voleo bih sa RAMom da letim do Beograda iz IAD-a, pitam se da li je moguce presedanje u Maroku

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