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Etihad Airways extends Melbourne stadium deal to 2019

Airline signs new agreement to extend its naming and marketing rights

Gulf News

Dubai: Etihad Airways on Wednesday said it has signed a new agreement to extend its naming and marketing rights for Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium to 2019.

While the Abu Dhabi-based carrier did not divulge the exact value of the deal, it said in a statement that the five-year extension would be a “multi-million dollar” agreement.

The move was announced in Melbourne on Wednesday by the airline’s President and Chief Executive, James Hogan, and Ian Collins AM, Chief Executive of the Melbourne Stadiums Limited, the company that operates Etihad Stadium.

“The partnership with Melbourne Stadiums Limited gives Etihad Airways unparalleled exposure in Australia, one of the most important routes in our network,” Hogan said in a statement.

Etihad Airways became the stadium’s naming rights sponsor on March 1, 2009, the same month it commenced non-stop flights between Melbourne and Abu Dhabi, the carrier said in a statement, adding that by 2019, Etihad will have sponsored the stadium continuously for 10 years.

Commenting on Etihad’s strategy of lending its name to the stadiums, aviation analyst, Saj Ahmad, told Gulf News: “Sports marketing is big business, especially for Etihad. They are partners and stakeholders in Virgin Australia so ensuring this sort of brand coverage gives them power to market themselves to new customers without the need for costly and often ineffective direct marketing.”

Another analyst, Andrew Charlton, of Aviation Advocacy, said: “Etihad is determined to build a loyal customer base to ensure continuing passenger feed for its services. Being associated with Australia’s most popular sport, at one of its key venues, is a good marketing step,” adding that the airline’s sponsorship with Manchester City is another example of this principle at work.

Further, aggressively pursuing its strategy to grow by acquisitions, Etihad is mulling a couple of more airline alliances, according to news reports on Wednesday, which stated that the airline would consider adding one or two more strategic airline stakes. “Maybe one or two more,” Hogan was quoted as saying by the media in Melbourne.

Etihad Airways currently holds stakes in Virgin Australia, Air Berlin, Air Seychelles and Aer Lingus.