Moroccan startup Dlimi Airlines (Dakhla) has applied for an Operating License from the country's civil aviation regulators (Direction Générale de l'aviation Civile Maroc - DGAC), according to its founder, Hamza Dlimi.

He told African Aerospace he has been in contact with Embraer for the acquisition of two E195-E2s. "We would start with two aircraft and see how it goes," he said.

On inquiry from ch-aviation, Dlimi confirmed he planned to lease two E195s and expected to launch the airline by the end of summer 2022.

According to the company website, the nascent airline was founded in 2020 and plans to serve "most" of Morocco's largest cities, as well as West Africa, the Canary islands, and France.

Dlimi reportedly plans to hone in on the watersports tourism potential – particularly for kitesurfing - of his hometown Dakhla in the Moroccan Sahara. "It gets 300 days of wind a year," he remarked. According to tourism websites, kitesurfing and kiteboarding are the fastest growing water sports in Dakhla.

Dakhla lies in the disputed territory of Western Sahara, currently occupied by Morocco. It is the capital of the claimed Moroccan administrative region Dakhla-Oued Ed-Dahab. It is situated on a narrow peninsula of the Atlantic Coast, the Río de Oro Peninsula, about 550km south of Laayoune.

The Moroccan government encourages hotel investment in Dakhla to further the local tourism industry, while the small international Dakhla airport is scheduled for significant expansion in the next few years. At 11 metres MSL (medium sea level), Dakhla airport is served via one hard surface runway (03/21) of 3,000 x 45 metres. The airport's capacity is to be increased to one million passengers a year after its expansion from 3,000 square metres to 10,000 square metres, according to plans announced by Morocco's National Airports Authority (ONDA) late last year. New hotels and a network of roads will also be built within the development master plan set for the region.

Royal Air Maroc (AT, Casablanca Mohamed V) currently holds more than 97% market share at Dakhla airport in terms of weekly airline seat capacity, while Binter Canarias (NT, Gran Canaria) provides the rest. The most popular routes by weekly capacity from Dakhla are to the domestic destinations of Casablanca Mohamed V, Agadir Al Massira, and Laayoune, with Paris Orly (France) and Gran Canaria (Spain) being the most popular international ones, according to the ch-aviation capacities module.