Executive Interview

Zouhair Mohamed El Aoufir,
CEO of Office Nationale des Aeroports (ONDA)

What are ONDA’s business aviation projects?  Can you provide us with an update on the Tit Mellil project?

Morocco has several undeniable advantages when it comes to developing the business aviation sector; its geographical location, its dynamic economy and tourism, a growing aeronautics industry, and the support of world-renowned foreign investors, all of which are among the strong points of our country for the development of business aviation in Morocco.

Morocco has airport infrastructures that meet the specific needs of business aviation. This new growth has involved the development of infrastructure and the implementation of adapted services.

Conscious of the need to be at the level highest level of international standards, ONDA launched a call for tenders in 2016 for the concession of services Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) The result was the selection of two world-renowned operators, now operational:

1. The UAE based operator JETEX which has been set up in the airports of Casablanca, Marrakech, Rabat, Agadir and Dakhla.

2. The Swiss operator SWISSPORT EXECUTIVE AVIATION, which operates at Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech and Tangiers airports.

In terms of infrastructure, the Mohammed V airport, the Kingdom's first platform, already has a terminal dedicated to business aviation, that has recently been renovated to offer the best conditions for VIP passengers.  Another business aviation terminal is under construction at Marrakech Menara airport and will be operational by the 4th quarter of 2019. We’ll be able to visit the terminal during MEBAA Show Morocco taking place 25 and 26 September 2019 in Marrakech.

Regarding the project to build an airport dedicated to business aviation at Tit Mellil, the strategy for the development of a platform dedicated to light aviation will be examined according to several scenarios: clean management, PPP, concession, etc. We have commissioned an international firm that is currently conducting the preliminary studies necessary for the development of this project.

How do you describe the business aviation market in Morocco? Why is it important for ONDA's future strategic plans?

Business aviation traffic has changed slightly in recent years: 2018 recorded a total of 9,823 movements against 9,622 the previous year; an increase of 2.16%.

Morocco represents about 50% of the business jet activity in North Africa.

However, the existing offering remains limited and does not satisfy the substantial requirement of this sector which we predict to rise in the years to come.

Our goal is to position Morocco as a regional hub for business aviation in North Africa. Our main asset is a network of airports covering almost the entire Kingdom supported by the necessary aeronautical infrastructure along with the important economic and industrial development of our country, offering many opportunities for investment in business aviation.

What do you see as the biggest challenges business aviation faces in this region?

Business aviation remains closely linked to strategies that are of paramount importance to the Kingdom, such as tourism and industry.

To take advantage of this potential, I believe that we should not only capitalise on the attractiveness of Moroccan airports, but also define measures to encourage investment in this sector, such as the creation of private jet companies in Morocco.

Today, the biggest challenge that business aviation faces in Morocco remains the introduction of regulations specific to this sector, which is currently subject to the same rules as commercial aviation. The development of a specific regulatory framework for business aviation, a project on which the DGAC (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) is working with ONDA, will strengthen and sustain the development of the sector.

What is the impact of the regulation on foreign direct investment adopted by the Moroccan government in recent years on the business aviation sector?

On a global level and considering investment as a decisive factor to ensure sustainable and sustained economic growth, Morocco has embarked on a liberalization of its economy by relaxing procedures, offering better protection to foreign and domestic private operators and adopting new laws aimed at improving investment conditions.

In the case of private aviation, investment in this sector benefits from the advantages granted to other investments.

In the meantime, with the adoption of a regulatory framework for the sector, the Moroccan government through our supervisory authority spares no effort to stimulate the growth of this activity which undeniably contributes to economic growth.

And of course, the third edition of the MEBAA Show Morocco, which will be held on 25 and 26 September at the Marrakech airport, is a precious opportunity to highlight the attractions and potential of Morocco in terms of private aviation.



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