British Airways is to launch new services to Marrakech from London Gatwick next year in direct competition with the low cost carriers. The airline announced the new service at the World Travel Market at ExCel in London.

Richard Tams, head of UK & Ireland sales and marketing, said: “British Airways offers a real alternative to discerning travellers to Morocco. Unlike the low cost carriers, we offer fantastic all-inclusive fares with no stealth extras. The benefits you get on BA at no extra charge include a generous baggage allowance, drinks and snacks and much more.

“Marrakech adds another fabulous destination to our leisure network at Gatwick and I am confident it will be a huge success. It’s a great starting point to explore Morocco; from trekking in the Atlas Mountains to exploring its amazing deserts and beaches and soaking up the atmosphere of the many medinas.”

The Chief Executive Officer of the Moroccan National Tourist Office, Mr Hamid Addou, welcomed the announcement and said: “We’re delighted that British Airways is returning to Morocco and Marrakech, where we know that there is a strong demand from the UK tourist market for flagship carriers.

“Marrakech is one of the key tourism destinations in the southern Europe and Africa regions. Its brand image is very strong and we will reinforce it in our joint marketing programme.”

A mix of Boeing 737s and Airbus A319s will operate the thrice-weekly service, which departs Gatwick on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, returning the same evening.

British Airways last flew to Marrakech as GB Airways. The service operated from October 2002 until March 2008, when the route was discontinued following GB’s takeover by easyJet.

One way fares are from £79.70 including taxes, fees and charges.

All prices are subject to availability and include return flights and taxes, fees and charges

The first flight will leave Gatwick on Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 1.05pm UK time and arrive in Marrakech at 3.35pm local time. The return flight leaves Marrakech at 4.20pm local time and arrives back at Gatwick at 8.55pm local time.

BA operates to 42 domestic, European and longhaul destinations from Gatwick and carries approximately five million customers a year through the airport. BA regularly outperforms all other Gatwick carriers to produce punctuality levels of more than 90 per cent.