From Singapore to Silicon Valley, RAM’s roadshow to design the aviation of tomorrow

By Nelly Fualdes
Posted on Thursday, 19 May 2022 10:41

Abdelhamid Addou has been the CEO of Royal Air Maroc since 2016. Abdelhamid Addou CEO of Royal Air Maroc © Guillaume Molle for JA

Royal Air Maroc is launching its 3.0 revolution by counting on the start-up ecosystem to improve its customer experience, optimise internal processes and develop ancillary services.

Abdelhamid Addou, the CEO of Royal Air Maroc (RAM), was at Mohammed VI-Polytechnic University on 27 April, Palo Alto, in the heart of Silicon Valley, on 11 May and in Singapore on 17 May for the launch of his “Open Innovation” programme. This roadshow allows him to meet students, researchers and start-ups and will take him to Geneva on 20 May.

The idea is for RAM to solicit the tech ecosystem to identify opportunities for innovation that will help improve the customer experience, generate revenue and increase the company’s operational efficiency. From 6 to 10 June, 14 project leaders will be shortlisted and offered presentations, coaching and team building sessions, from which six projects are expected to emerge that will be co-constructed and deployed via an incubator installed within a RAM Boeing 747.

Going digital

“We will then have to discuss the business model that we will put in place with each of the partners. This could be a joint venture, revenue sharing, an equity investment,” said Fatim-Zahra El Mernissi, head of RAM’s digital strategy, to the crowd of Singaporean students and start-ups that came to the presentation.

This phase is due to take place during July and August, and will then be followed by an acceleration phase planned to last three months.

“After the two very difficult years we went through because of Covid-19, we could have been satisfied with returning to our pre-crisis level. But that is not our goal. Our objective is to seize this opportunity to innovate, to invent RAM 3.0 and the aviation of tomorrow,” said Addou, who is also counting on this programme to train the company’s employees in the digital shift.

Gateway to African markets

To carry out this programme, RAM has joined forces with the Mohammed VI-Polytechnic University and the Swiss accelerator Plug and Play, which has already assisted Singapore Airlines with the same type of approach.

“Like OCP, RAM is one of the very large companies that can serve as a gateway to develop your innovative solutions in Africa,” its director, Robby Toole, told potential candidates.

RAM – 53.4% of which is owned by the Moroccan state, 44.1% by the Hassan II Fund and the remainder shared between various private shareholders – went from making 16bn MAD (€1.5bn) in turnover in 2019 to 6bn in 2020, according to data compiled by the Moroccan press. However, the company was able to benefit from a 6bn MAD support plan, including 3.4bn MAD of capital increase.

After focusing on domestic routes during the height of the crisis, RAM has gradually restored its regional and intercontinental routes, while developing new partnerships. For instance, it concluded a code-share agreement with El Al Israel Airlines on 13 March and another with Emirates on 10 May.

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