Morocco has decided to postpone until late 2001 the privatization of the national carrier Royal Air Maroc, until after a restructuring program to make the company attractive to investors.
The company has faced difficulties, including a series of strikes for salary increases and a sharp rise in fuel prices.
"Air Maroc has been going through a difficult time," the carrier's chief, Mohammed Hassad told Moroccan La Vie Economique weekly. He cited the high fuel bill, which amounted this year to $1.2 billion against $65 million in 1999.
The fluctuation of the dollar also contributed to the problems. "Our revenues in dollars are very low, while our dollar expenditures are high," said Mr. Hassad.
The company has also been prey to labor problems with a series of strikes for salary increases and better working conditions. "All these factors contributed to postponing the privatization project," Mr. Hassad said.
Pending the privatization project, the carrier has devised a program to renovate the fleet. "We have seen officials from Boeing and we will see others from Airbus about buying new planes," he said.
The carrier is planning to add 227,000 new seats, part of a program to open new air routes, especially in Africa. Morocco had announced that it was ready to cede 40 per cent of the capital of Royal Air Maroc to private operators.
Opening the company's capital to private operators will help it "drain capital and be able to renew its fleet," the Moroccan transport ministry has said.
Air Maroc which already owns a 27-plane fleet, plans to increase the number to 34 in 2001.
The company saw its capital increased last June by four folds to reach $ 114 million. –(Albawaba-MEBG)
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