Emirates Airline has signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Formula One to become a global partner with the sport, a move which pushed the Dubai airline’s total sports sponsorship for 2013 to around AED1bn (US$272m).
The deal, rumoured to be worth $200 million, was announced jointly this morning by Emirates Group chairman and chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
Emirates will sponsor a total of 15 races each year, beginning with the Malaysia Grand Prix on March 22-24. The agreement is initially for five years, but excludes races which already have prominent airline sponsors, including Abu Dhabi, Monaco, Melbourne and Bahrain.
“This is an exciting global opportunity to align two world leading brands. The ambition, cutting-edge technological standards and worldwide reach of Formula One go hand in hand with Emirates’ vision and ambition,” said Sheikh Ahmed.
“For many years, Emirates has been at the forefront of sports partnerships across the world. With the addition of this global partnership with the Formula One group we are continuing to expand our sponsorship portfolio, which I’m sure will be appreciated by sports fans. Today’s Formula One partnership follows on from our recent sporting announcements such as re-signing a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Arsenal Football Club, being a sponsorship partner of the 2014 Commonwealth Games and becoming the Official Airline of the ATP World Tour tournament.”
“Emirates has a first class international reputation and I’m very pleased to welcome such a prestigious company as a global partner of Formula One. With considerable overlap between their priority markets and our own I look forward to many successful years working on this important partnership together,” added Ecclestone.
Emirates has been highly active in sports sponsorship for over a decade, including paying $180m in 2004 for the naming rights to Premiership side Arsenal’s stadium. Emirates executives confirmed the addition of the Formula One deal will push the airline’s total sports sponsorship for 2013 to AED1bn (US$272m).
The airline joins a host of big name F1 official sponsors including UBS, Rolex, Tata and LG. When asked if he was in talks with any other Middle Eastern brands for potential sponsorship deals, Ecclestone said “the answer is yes,” but declined to reveal which brands they were or the status of talks.
Formula 1 Grand Prix races will be staged this year in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, but Ecclestone didn’t rule out a race being hosted in Emirates’ homeland of Dubai. “We have a couple of events in the region so we will have to wait and see… We have two in this area so it would probably be difficult to pop another one in,” he said.
The presence of a race in Abu Dhabi was not a direct hindrance, as Ecclestone confirmed Abu Dhabi does not have UAE exclusive rights to stage a race as part of its contract with the Formula One Group.
Currently, there are 19 races on the circuit and Ecclestone confirmed talks were currently taking place with Qatar for another race.