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New Turkish Airlines route underscores air cargo development in Morocco

Turkish Airlines is already seeking to capitalize on capacity available at its new hub in Istanbul (IST, former IATA code: ISL), with the addition of a route to Morocco’s Marrakech Manera Airport (RAK). Marrakech is the first destination the carrier has added from its hub and underscores already growing air cargo volumes and infrastructure at Moroccan airports. 

Turkish Airlines is flying five weekly direct flights between its hub at IST to RAK on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, effective Apr. 15. Flights are scheduled to leave IST at 11:30 and arrive in RAK at 14:30, before leaving RAK at 15:25 to return to IST at 22:05. The flights are being operated with 777-300ER aircraft, according to data from Flight Aware. By operating 777-300ER aircraft, each flight can hold up to 20 tonnes of cargo, dependent on passenger load. 

Recently, Turkish Airlines transfered its passenger operations there from its former base at Istanbul Atatürk Airport (ISL, former IATA code: IST). Upon the full completion of its terminal construction at IST in early 2020, Turkish Cargo will transition all its operations to the new airport, as ISL is slated for closure. 

While Turkish Airlines’ development at IST has been largely discussed by news outlets, RAK and other Moroccan airports are also experiencing growth and development. 

Marrakech Manera Airport (RAK) is one of six major airports in Morocco – including Casablanca (CMN),  Agadir (AGA), Fez (FEZ), Rabat (RBA) and Tangier (TNG) – operated by the Moroccan Airports Authority (ONDA), which reported that the country’s airports combined handled approximately 88,200 tonnes of cargo in 2018, a 7.5% increase compared to the year prior. This growth has continued into 2019, with ONDA reporting year-over-year increases in monthly cargo handles by 2.7% and 16.5% in January and February, respectively. 

While most ONDA airports reported growth in flight traffic since the beginning of 2019, RAK specifically, saw 21.7% and 22.7% y-o-y increases in its take-off and landings in January and February, respectively.  

ONDA also intends to develop RAK into a hub in the EMEA region through the development of airport infrastructure, according to a U.S. Department of Commerce report on the Moroccan aerospace industry at the site Export.gov. The report also states that ONDA is currently constructing a new, second airport worth U.S. $520 million in Marrakech to complement the city’s existing RAK. ONDA has not yet released details related to this project. 

ONDA has also outlined a long-term vision for cargo development in the country on its site, which includes the development of cargo centers at CMN, RBA, AGA and TNG.  

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