Global sponsorship from the airline industry has now reached $515 million per year according to a new report from Sponsorship Today. The 46-page report, which analyses more than 260 deals across the world, shows that two carriers, Emirates and Etihad, account for almost half the entire amount spent globally on sponsorship, with Emirates now spending $182m per year on rights fees alone.
Sponsorship Today editor, Simon Rines, points out that the investment is part of a strategy to create a global airline superpower.
“Emirates is driving a strategy to develop Dubai as the world’s leading aviation hub. The Gulf state is in a prime position to link the Americas and Europe to Asia. To achieve this, massive investment has been made in airport facilities in Dubai and Emirates has spent more than $80 billion on a modern fleet of aircraft. But without developing the brand and communicating the route network, the growth plan cannot succeed. Emirates has used sponsorship as a key tool in both building brand image and informing potential customers about its route network. The annual $182m rights spend could be argued to be a very small investment compared to that spent on infrastructure.”
US carriers continue to invest around $100 million between them annually, although this is almost exclusively for domestic sports rights with Delta and United leading the way. Low cost carrier JetBlue, however, is using sponsorship as a major marketing weapon and now outspends its bigger rival Southwest,
The report shows that Europe’s ‘legacy’ carriers have generally cut back on sponsorship spend under the pressure of big losses and increased competition. Aeroflot is now the continent’s biggest spender having taken rights to both Sochi 2014 and CSKA Moscow, with British Airways and Turkish Airlines the only other carriers to make the top 20 in sports investment.
Spend among Asian based carriers is relatively low, with Korean Air and AirAsia the most serious players, although in Australia both Qantas and Virgin Australia have invested in high value sponsorship rights.
The report predicts that airline sponsorship will continue to grow and suggests that the desire to create global hubs and the emergence of Chinese and Indian as increasingly important international carriers will drive increased spending.
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