January 29, 2022

At Casablanca airport, the confusion of travelers to France

There are those who arrived five hours early for fear that their flight would be overbooked; those who were about to make a long trip, made stopovers in Milan, Brussels or Geneva; those, again, who shouted their anger at having had to pay three times as much for their return flight. At the Mohammed-V international airport in Casablanca, Friday, November 26, travelers did not hide their dismay, after the sudden announcement of the Moroccan authorities, Thursday, of the suspension of flights with France.

Initially scheduled for Friday evening, this suspension was finally postponed to Sunday midnight, in order to facilitate the return of citizens and residents. It is part of Morocco’s desire to ” to preserve [ses] acquis » in terms of managing the Covid-19 epidemic, according to a press release from the Interministerial Committee for the Coordination and Monitoring of the Mechanism Governing International Travel During the Pandemic, while Europe and France are Facing a Fifth Wave of Contamination .

Surprised by the suddenness of the announcement, the travelers met on Friday morning in front of terminal 2 of the airport said they had to find a plan B in a hurry, often very expensive. This is the case with Mehdi and his partner, both Moroccans living in France, who had to bring their return flight to Paris forward by three days with Royal Air Maroc. “In a few minutes yesterday [jeudi] at the end of the day, prices soared, he testifies. The last places climbed to 14,000 dirhams [1 340 euros], when we had paid our initial ticket 1,600 dirhams [152 euros]. And then, very quickly, there were no more places. “

Read also Covid-19: Morocco suspends flights to and from France from Sunday

“Airlines are taking advantage”

To return to France, the couple finally opted for a flight to Geneva at 250 euros, to which it will be necessary to add a hotel night in the Swiss city and a TGV ticket to Paris. “This return will be quantified, for us it is catastrophic”, laments Mehdi.

“Airlines are taking advantage of this, it’s scandalous! “, adds Lydie, a Frenchwoman who had come to see her daughter installed in Casablanca and who is leaving for Toulouse on an Air Arabia flight with a ticket at 400 euros, against 130 euros if she had returned later, as planned.

The return to France ? “A total hassle” for Sami, a Moroccan living in Marseille, who came to see his family in Casablanca and who was due to return next Thursday. Casablanca-Marseille having become out of budget for him, the thirty-something took a ticket for Milan. “At least I’ll be on European soil. Once in Italy, I’ll take a train, I’ll manage to get home. “

The evolution of the health situation in Europe

While the number of contaminations in France has almost quintupled in one month (from 6,600 cases on October 26 to more than 32,000 on November 25), none of the travelers met questioned the decision of the Moroccan authorities to close the borders. air of the Kingdom, which is experiencing, conversely, an epidemic situation in constant improvement. “But why without warning? Give us a period of one week, fifteen days. Three days is overkill! “, deplores, in the waiting line of the terminal, Reda, 38, who managed to change his ticket Thursday evening after spending four hours on the phone with the passenger service of Royal Air Maroc.

In front of Casablanca airport, this Friday, the continuous parade of cars, taxis, private drivers and tourist buses foreshadowed an intense weekend of comings and goings of travelers. Air France has announced that it has strengthened its program of flights to and from the economic capital of Morocco on Friday, in order to “Facilitate the return of its customers”. In Marrakech, the airport has planned to manage 117 flights, from Friday to Sunday, between Morocco and France, according to information reported by the Moroccan site. 360.ma. That is to say a total of more than 22,000 passengers who will travel in both directions.

In October, the Moroccan authorities had already suspended flights to and from Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Russia because of the evolution of the health situation in these four countries. France is, by far, Morocco’s leading economic partner. Cultural and human ties are also close: more than 1.3 million Moroccans live in France, and nearly 80,000 French people live in Morocco.