ATN: You talked about restructuring. Could you please tell us about the figures and benefits of restructuring for RAM over the next years?
DB: We have expenses around 1,8 billion dollars and the scope of the restructuring is to reduce expenses of 1,20 million dollars for the year 2012 by cutting some routes where we lose money, by reducing the fleet. We have three objectives: first raise the productivity of the planes -because we will cut routes we will have too many planes- second, to achieve harmonisation of the fleet more rapidly and third, to get rid of the oldest planes. Then, we shall reduce the staff.
ATN: What will be the figure at the end of the restructuring effort?
DB: In fact we have at the moment 5000 to 5500 people. 4500 are working under the old status. We shall reduce this figure to 3000 people in the old status plus 1500 in the status during this year. We have already achieved something like 900 people leaving the company (voluntary redundancy).
ATN: The 787 mean that you will replace or that you will also expand?
DB: For the time being, our plan is to replace but we have undertaken a strategic study and if the strategic study shows that we need more long-haul planes, we have some option of the 787.
ATN: You are the launched customer of ATR-72-600. What are the results so far in comparison with the old ATR-500?
DB: We are very happy, customers are very happy too: less noise, less division, more comfort. We were the launch customer of this new aircraft. Anyone could be afraid of being the first customer because the first planes are supposed to have too many problems but this was not the case.
ATN: What is the number of connecting passengers via Casablanca? And what do you want this number to reach in the coming years?
DB: Ten years ago we had only 5% of all passengers connecting at Casablanca now it is around 40% but we need to reach a bigger figure in order to become a true hub.
ATN: And these are passengers coming from Europe or from other parts of Africa?
DB: We have both, people living in Europe especially African communities living in Europe and we have also people- business people, trade people- wanting to go from Africa to Europe but also to North America and to the Middle East.
ATN: You mentioned business passengers. What is the percentage of business passengers? And do you plan to increase this percentage or is it difficult to do it?
DB: It is the permanent objective for any airline to want to increase its business passengers but as we are not a long haul company even when we go to the Middle East or to North America- the flight time is long, 6 or 7 hours- we do not have very much premium class service. It much more business or what you call C- class service.
ATN: Do you think you can negotiate with European Union in way that there will be more “balance” agreement in the future?
DB: The objective of the open skies in Morocco was not to help RAM to enter into the European market but to attract big players to come to the Moroccan market and this goal was achieved with great success.
ATN: You are operating in a very competitive environment with the other African airlines. Do you believe that through this restructuring you will be able to gain more and more passengers in the future and get them to fly RAM?
DB: The competition in African is “unbalanced”. The trend of the growth is limited, we know it will be about getting between five to ten people more. The name of the game is not so much to attract passengers at weaker rate than we are doing now but much more to reduce the cost so that the tariffs are lower than or those set by the competition. This will be for the benefit of RAM. Because now we are not selling regarding our cost but we are selling regarding the trends of the market.
ATN: Have you seen any positive results from the open skies agreement for RAM not for the country?
DB: It is stimulating and after all, open skies agreements always boost the market.
ATN: But now you face more competition from the low-cost carriers coming from Europe....
DB: It is because of the open skies that we started our restructuring effort.
ATN: What are the future plans of Royal Air Maroc after the restructuring? more expansion, new routes?
DB: This year we will have a strategic study and we will consider all the new segments and the market where we can move our traffic.