As American Airlines (AA) enters into a codeshare agreement with Royal Air Maroc (RAM), Morocco’s national carrier, Moroccan and African fliers familiar with the Moroccan carrier’s performance are wondering if the two airlines are ready for this partnership. While the new alliance will undoubtedly benefit the two companies in terms of new routes in Africa and North America, AA may find itself faced with new types of complaints and headaches.
Washington DC – Moroccans love to bash their national airline. Whereas most of the complaints against RAM are legitimate, some of the blame is undeserving.
Nevertheless, for a company that portrays itself as a world-class airline that charges “an arm and a leg” for flights, it should address all criticism and handle all grievances with professionalism and care.
Lately, the company has somewhat improved its operational performance, but customer service and client relations seem to reach a new low.
RAM customers, domestic and international, expect certain level of comfort and service on the ground and in-flight. While the airline made strides in its cabin service, poor performance of the staff at its hub in Casablanca Mohammed V airport (CMN) remains a serious issue.
In actuality, I had a much superior in-fight experience on a RAM’s Dulles Washington (IAD)-Casablanca trip than on Alitalia’s IAD-Beirut flight. However, check-in experience at Al-Hariri and Fiumicino airports were noticeably better and friendlier than at CMN.
On a recent travel with RAM, I was struck by the difference in attitude and professionalism between ground staff in IAD and the one in Casablanca. While the attendants in the U.S. were courteous and professional, the ones in Morocco were arrogant and rude.
At one point, an agent at CMN left a counter full of check-in passengers without providing a reason or making an announcement. In another incident, an agent chastised a passenger for putting a suite case on the wrong side of a scale.
During my thirty years of flying, I have found the check-in and costumer relations experience at Moroccan airports to be unpleasant. Despite their worldwide presence and this new partnership with AA, RAM and CMN remain indifferent to the magnitude of good customer service and the role it plays in growth and revenue.
Furthermore, Morocco’s customer service industry, outside Marrakech’s five stars accommodations and restaurants, lack personnel trained to handle difficult situations, glitches, problems and complaints .
The culture of good customer service seems to be foreign to CMN’s employees. In fact, the only smiling faces I saw there were those of business class hosts who must cater to high-ranking officials and immigration officers who feel sorry for travelers.
While RAM has a history of last-minute flight cancellations, poor communication and unresponsiveness to costumer’s complaints, it seems to have attempted to address some of these issues lately.
However, the question of bad service on the ground continues to plague the Moroccan company.
Airlines around the world mishandle bags and cancel flights every day, but few have consistent bad service at their check-in counters in their home countries. These damaging customer experiences stay with passengers and will further tarnish the image of tourism in the Kingdom. Passengers my overlook on-time performance and even lost baggage but they will not forget bad, arrogant and careless agents
Given recent postings on social media, including a video of a Moroccan-Canadian family ill-treated by RAM’s ground crew at Casablanca, it is very hard to be optimistic about the long-term future of the airline and the airport.
Despite its face-lift, CMN looks gloomy and sad. In truth, Morocco’s new train stations that opened up to accommodate the new high speed TGV trains look more like European airports, while CMN feels like an old warehouse that was recently painted with a coat of fresh paint trying to make it look like new.
Unfortunately, RAM and the Authority that runs CMN are far from addressing their shortcomings.
Employees’ rude and discourteous behaviors seem to persist and CMN lack of planning, and adjustments seem to continue.
Some of the issues facing the Moroccan airline are structural and will take years to fix, the “renovation” of its hub and the re-training of some of the employee’s may help” improve how passengers perceive the airport and the airline but will not resolve its ongoing woes.
If RAM wants travelers to view it as a premium airline, friendly and caring, it should invest in a new customer service training program, reinforces a culture that values costumers, and remove employees who think they are better than the jobs they hold.
Furthermore, Moroccan taxpayers who have been baling out a failing companies should demand real change. For now, Morocco’s flag carrier seems unable to get past its bad reputation.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial views.
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