Aerospace – Civil
Aerospace value-added trade is one of Morocco’s fastest growing sectors. It has also been among the sectors most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The sector is now recovering and as of September 2022, the Moroccan Exchange office reported that Morocco’s aerospace sector’s exports have neared $ 2 Billion. Similarly, Royal Air Maroc (RAM), Morocco’s flagship air carrier, has reopened and added flights to Miami and Dulles in addition to direct flights to New York. The airline is also looking to open several new destinations to the U.S. in the near future.
Briefly, the aeronautical ecosystem in Morocco currently accounts for about 142 companies with a turnover of around $2 billion in exports, with the number of direct jobs at 17,000 employees, 40% of whom are women. Aerospace activity in Morocco dropped by 29 percent in 2020, against a 50 percent drop globally, because of the pandemic. Job losses in the sector were limited to 10 percent (or 1,500 jobs) against 40 percent worldwide. As such, Morocco has two Memoranda of Agreement in place: one with Boeing back in 2016 and another one with Collins Aerospace signed in July 2022. Both MOUs aim at creating suppliers’ ecosystems in Morocco.
Morocco has 26 airports, all operated by the National Airports Office (ONDA). ONDA is responsible for all aspects of airport security and purchasing related to its projects. ONDA intends to invest $200 million in the development and enhancement of the airports, specifically the freight zones of the Casablanca and Tangier airports. A significant portion of the budget will be dedicated to safety and security equipment and air traffic. The Casablanca airport recently expanded and modernized its Terminal One at a cost of $160 million. This allowed for an increase in passenger capacity, which now stands at 14 million per year. The National Airports Authority (ONDA) is responsible for all aspects of airport security and purchasing related to its projects. ONDA has a plan to upgrade its airports with facial recognition systems starting with Rabat - Salé airport. In 2024, while keeping control of sovereign activities like security and air traffic control, ONDA plans to have the rest of the airports’ management will be privatized allowing airports to become more profitable. For more information, please refer to the ONDA strategic plan for 2021 –2025 available via this link: https://www.onda.ma/en/I-discover-ONDA/The-institution/Envol-2025. Royal Air Maroc, the majority state-owned flag carrier, operates short-haul flights within the country, medium-haul flights to Europe and Africa, and transatlantic long-haul flights to the United States, Canada, Brazil, and China. RAM has the largest fleet of Boeing 737s in Africa (42) and operates five Boeing 787s. In December 2019, the Moroccan carrier announced its codeshare with American Airlines followed by its membership in the OneWorld alliance, beginning June 2020. Due to the pandemic’s impact, the company underwent a major reduction of its workforce, reduced air routes, and reduced the number of its aircraft. When skies opened worldwide bringing with it an increased demand for travel, RAM’s president announced that the flagship carrier is set to update its fleet as of 2023. In fact, in July 2023, the Moroccan state-owned airline’s president, Abdelhamid Addou, announced its plan to quadruple its fleet from 50 to 200 aircraft by 2037. This fleet increase will lead to increasing RAM’s destinations from 99 to 143 by 2037. Europe will have the highest destinations with 73 new ones while 12 additional destinations will be in Africa, 13 new lines for the American continent and 8 new destinations for Asia. This is in support of the 2023-2036 Morocco’s Tourism roadmap.
Aerospace – Defense
The Royal Moroccan Air Force flies primarily French and American aircraft. American aircraft in the Air Force inventory include F-16 and F-5 fighters, T-6 trainers, C-130 transport, CH-47D, AH-64E helicopters, and G-550 business jets for VIP transport. The Royal Moroccan Navy operates modern frigates equipped with U.S.-origin digital communications and operates Bell 412 helicopters and King Air 350 aircraft.
The FMS portfolio is worth $8.5 billion. There are several other cases currently in the FMS development process which have the potential to bring the total FMS portfolio to well over $10.3 billion. Primary sources for the Moroccan military are the United States, France, Spain and Israel. Morocco is the largest purchaser of American weapons in Africa.
To further Morocco’s aim to build a military and defense industry, in early 2022, Sabca and Sabena Aerospace, part of the Belgian Blueberry Group, the government of Morocco, and U.S. company Lockheed Martin signed a strategic partnership creating the joint venture Maintenance Aero Maroc (MAM). This partnership includes a state-of-the-art maintenance and repair center, revision, and upgrade (MRO&U) for military airplanes and helicopters in Benslimane airport. In February 2023, the Moroccan Administration of National Defense and Boeing signed an industrial compensation agreement as part of the extension of the acquisition program of Apache Helicopters. This agreement aligns with the newly adopted law 10.20 (June 2021) for the defense industry where arms, munitions and military airplanes’ maintenance are all targeted.
The bi-annual Marrakech Air Show is a recommended event for U.S. companies seeking to sell in Africa. The upcoming edition’s date is expected to be announced by the end of 2023. The airshow is expected to take place towards the end of 2024. For more information, email Office.Casablanca@trade.gov.
- Maintenance for all types of aircraft (civil and defense)
- Inputs for cabling production of aircrafts (or other commercial vehicles)
- Service providers
- Technical training
- Parts and equipment suppliers for aircraft
- Parts and equipment suppliers for airport facilities
- Pilot and crew training
- Air navigation control systems
- Radio communication systems
- Baggage handling
- Scanning equipment
- Passenger security devices
- Aviation consulting services
- Security systems
- Strengthen the status of the Casablanca airport as an international connection hub for Central and West Africa.
- Develop the Marrakech Menara Airport ; and
- Sustain the development of airport infrastructure through airport extensions, modernizations, and new construction projects.
Royal Air Maroc plans to launch a new tender for the procurement of new long and medium haul aircraft.
- ONDA’s Development Plan
- Grouping of Moroccan Aeronautic and Space Industries (Groupement des Industries Marocaines Aéronautiques et Spatiales, GIMAS)
- Ministère de l’Industrie et du Commerce (mcinet.gov.ma)
- The national public tendering portal (https://www.marchespublic.gov.ma/), managed by the Moroccan Treasury.