The oneworld global alliance announced Dec. 5 that Royal Air Maroc (RAM) will become its 14th full member airline, likely being inaugurated in mid-2020.

RAM’s regional subsidiary, Royal Air Maroc Express, will join as a oneworld affiliate, the alliance said during a press conference in New York.

RAM’s membership will add 34 new destinations and 21 countries to the oneworld network, taking the alliance’s total destinations to 1,069 airports and 178 countries and territories.

Three oneworld airlines—British Airways (BA), Iberia and Qatar Airways—serve three cities in Morocco: Casablanca, Marrakech and Tangier. BA, Iberia and S7 Airlines already codeshare with RAM.

RAM carried 7.3 million passengers in 2017 and operates a fleet of 55 aircraft, including Boeing 737-800s, 787-8s and 767s, and Embraer E190s. RAM Express operates five ATR 72s.

RAM has a five-year growth plan that will see it carry 13 million passengers annually. It will become oneworld’s first African member and the first full member to join the 20-year-old alliance in six years.

Oneworld, which will mark its 20th anniversary in February, launched with four founding members: American Airlines, BA, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. It grew to 14 full members, but German carrier airberlin ceased operations in October 2017.

Oneworld CEO Rob Gurney said the alliance had changed its processes so, unlike in the past when new full members were selected, RAM will not have an airline sponsor through the roughly 18-month integration process before it formally joins oneworld. Instead, oneworld will handle that integration process, which Gurney said would be “relatively rapid.”

RAM filled a “fundamental spot where there was a gap” in oneworld’s network, Gurney said, and that it was clear that RAM was “by far the best option.”

Also at the press announcement were RAM CEO Abdelhamid Addou and Qantas CEO and oneworld governing board chairman Alan Joyce.

Responding to a question about Qatar Airways, whose CEO Akbar al Baker has made public that he is considering taking his airline out of oneworld, Gurney said that oneworld generates $5 billion in annual O&D revenue.

“That’s hugely valuable. Obviously, we would prefer Qatar Airways to stay in the alliance, but ultimately each member has to make its own decisions based on its own priorities and we respect that,” Gurney said.

Karen Walker,