Etihad Airways has made its sponsorship of Manchester City Football Club even more public with the unveiling of a specially liveried A330-200 wearing the club’s sky-blue colors.
The aircraft was unveiled in Manchester as Manchester City Football Club (MCFC) and Etihad Airways announced a 10-year comprehensive partnership agreement significantly expanding their existing commercial relationship.
The partnership deal was signed on July 8 by Garry Cook, CEO of Manchester City FC, and Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan, before the Manchester City first team squad departed on an Etihad Airways charter flight for a pre-season tour to the United States, where they will visit San Francisco and Los Angeles. The team will also play a match in Vancouver in Canada.
Etihad Airways’ new “Blue Moon Rising” special MCFC livery also marks the beginning of double-daily service by Etihad Airways between Manchester and Abu Dhabi, effective from August 1. Etihad currently flies to the United Arab Emirates’ capital city seven times a week.
A team of 40 painters worked around the clock for 18 days in Abu Dhabi to paint the Airbus A330-200 in the colors of Manchester City. Some 450 liters of paint were required to complete the job, according to the airline.
The specially liveried Airbus A330-200 will operate as the flagship of the expanded Abu Dhabi-Manchester service and will also serve Milan, Frankfurt, Brussels, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Singapore, Istanbul and destinations throughout the Middle East and India.
“We are very proud of our sponsorship of Manchester City Football Club, and of our commitment to the wider community. Manchester has been a key destination for Etihad for five years, and the increase in frequency to double daily indicates our dedication to the region,” said James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive officer. “Business and leisure travelers from all over the northwest of England can now easily take advantage of the services, whether flying to Abu Dhabi, or further afield to destinations such as Thailand, Singapore or Australia.”
Speaking about the comprehensive partnership agreement, Hogan said: “This is a game-changing partnership agreement that redefines the traditional sports sponsorship paradigm. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for two iconic brands that share the same vision to promote far-reaching global awareness and business growth.
“Etihad’s work with Manchester City Football Club has already yielded a significant return on our investment and we are thrilled to build on our relationship. Their well-established name and loyal fan base have allowed us to tap into a new and increasing global audience. In addition to being a sensible alignment for our brand from a business perspective, it is also one that we can get very excited about, especially at a time when MCFC’s winning attitude is bringing increased success for the team on the national and international stage.”
Key elements of the comprehensive partnership agreement include:
● The City of Manchester Stadium is to be renamed the Etihad Stadium immediately, forming the centerpiece of a newly named Etihad Campus, which encompasses a large part of the Sportcity site in East Manchester, the popular City Square entertainment space and additional existing and planned facilities. On current trends and with the added benefit of UEFA Champions League football in the 2011-12 season, the global visibility of the Etihad Stadium is expected to be dramatically enhanced and up to two million visitors to the Etihad Campus are expected during the year.
● Etihad Airways has extended its sponsorship deal of Manchester City F.C.’s shirts (known as the team’s “strips”) to reflect an increased media value due to MCFC’s improved on-pitch performance in the 2010-11 season; qualification for the UEFA Champions League; the club’s growing international retail network; and a commitment to enhance further the visibility of the Etihad logo on all MCFC home-game and away-game shirts; and
● MCFC and Etihad also will cooperate within their home markets of the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates respectively, with the new MCFC-branded Etihad Airways A330-200 to be used as a flagship on the Manchester-Abu Dhabi route. Etihad opened a premium lounge at Manchester Airport in December 2010.
The extra flights to Manchester will be followed by the opening of a call center in the city in 2012, employing up to 160 people.
Etihad Airways has been Manchester City Football Club’s main club sponsor since May, 2009. During that time the Barclays Premier League club has enjoyed considerable success, including its first FA Cup win since 1969 in the 2010-2011 season. In the 2010-2011 Barclays Premier League season, Manchester City finished third, ensuring automatic entry to the group stages of the UEFA Champions League competition for the 2011-2012 season.
The airline also has other international sponsorship partners. They include the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Harlequins Rugby Football Club, the Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championships, the Abu Dhabi Golf Championships and the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.
Etihad Airways was launched in 2003. It currently serves 70 destinations in Europe, the Americas, Africa, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific region.