As Chinese interest in Morocco increases both as an investment and a tourist destination, Royal Air Maroc (AT, Casablanca Int'l) is planning to launch services to the capital's new Beijing Daxing Int'l after it opens later this year, most likely starting in early 2020.

The flag carrier is also eyeing Guangzhou and Shanghai Pudong as possible destinations in the coming years as it looks for alternatives to the increasingly competitive routes between Morocco and Europe, CAPA reported. It is also keen to diversify its network as it prepares to enter the oneworld alliance in mid-2020.

In Africa, meanwhile, it faces growing threats from three rival carriers, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, and Air Algérie, its president and CEO Abdelhamid Addou warned in May as he called for more financial backing from the Moroccan government.

Currently, Royal Air Maroc flies no further in Asia than the Middle East, namely to Istanbul Sabiha Gökcen (7x weekly), Beirut (6x), Doha Hamad Int'l (5x), Jeddah (4x), Amman Queen Alia (3x), and Riyadh (1x), according to the ch-aviation capacities module. Its only long-haul destinations are in the Americas, where it has seven routes, to New York JFK (13x weekly), Montréal Trudeau (10x), Washington Dulles, São Paulo Guarulhos (both 5x), Boston, Miami Int'l, and Rio de Janeiro Int'l (all 3x) as well as in Southern Africa where it serves Luanda (3x weekly).

The news comes as China steps up its interest in the country, with Huawei for example saying on July 18 that it wanted Morocco to be the first country to launch 5G in Africa.