Rabat - It appears that pilots of Morocco’s largest airline Royal Air Maroc (RAM) are determined to achieve their demands. Hundreds of pilots are continuing their strike, begun eight days ago, to demand a salary raise.
Rabat – It appears that pilots of Morocco’s largest airline Royal Air Maroc (RAM) are determined to achieve their demands. Hundreds of pilots are continuing their strike, begun eight days ago, to demand a salary raise.
Ten international flights have been canceled today, Wednesday, and a further nine flights may be delayed.
The pilots are asking for a salary raise of MAD 15,000 per month in order to suspend their protest. RAM, however, has not found a solution to save the company from further crisis.
The crisis led to a new round of dialogue held Monday at the request of Morocco’s Minister of Tourism Mohamed Sajid. The meeting convened representatives of the Moroccan Association of Airline Pilots (AMPL).
However, negotiations have not solved the crisis. The airline has canceled approximately 50 flights affecting nearly 10,000 passengers, in addition to the 10 flights canceled today.
Closure of RAM training center to blame?
AMPL President Amine Mkinsi linked the crisis to the closure of RAM’s training center for pilots in 2014.
After closing the center, RAM had to send piloting students to ENAC in Toulouse, France, for training. RAM also received backlash from AMPL after hiring foreign pilots instead of Moroccans.
According to Mkinsi, who was quoted by Media24, RAM could save time and avoid the crisis if it reopened the training school to overcome the understaffing crisis.
“Its reopening is a necessity because even on the international market, pilots have become a rare commodity and therefore expensive. The proof is that in 2017, the RAM wanted to hire 86 foreigners and only 26 of them accepted the offer,” he said.
He added that some of those pilots favored offers from Turkish Airlines, Etihad Airways, and others that offered them “better working conditions.”
However, a former official of the Moroccan government told Media24 that the proposal “has no chance to be realized knowing that a 1st class of drivers will cost at least MAD 300 million or MAD 3 million per student.”
To combat understaffing, RAM hired 540 pilots and co-pilots in 2018. However, the number of pilots was not enough to face the shortage of its staff to cover domestic and international flights.
Mkinsi underscored that there should also be a reform in the training structure. He added that RAM needs to hire at least 100 pilots to avoid further cancellations and delays.
Royal Air Maroc signed a program contract with the government in 2014. The deal had encouraged the company to shut down its training centers deemed too expensive to maintain.
An expensive proposal
The opposing official, who shunned AMPL’s hopes aiming at the reopening of the centers, said that Morocco’s economy cannot afford a “flying school as it is overpriced for the public sector.”
The official noted that very few carriers have aviation schools, as it is so expensive.
The former official said that despite the shortage of pilots, Morocco would have to wait three more years to get a first contingent of pilot students if it reopened the training school.
He told Media24, “That means that counting (at least) MAD 75 million annual operating budget, to which we must add MAD 75 million investment (training aircraft, simulators …), we get an invoice total of MAD 300 million to train the first 100 pilots of this school.”.
In contrast, he said, “the budget of a public engineering school costs a maximum of 30 million DH to graduate 200 students and not 100 laureates as for piloting.”