DALLAS — Emirates (EK), the world’s most global airline, has been a major sponsor of Formula One, the most-watched motorsport championship.
However, after a decade of working together, the union seems to have come to an end, and, for Formula 1, the hunt for a new official airline sponsor has been in the works for several months.
It is likely that a new airline is already chosen, Qatar Airways (QR) as per SportBusiness. An official announcement on the new partnership is to be announced ahead of the very first race of the 2023 season.
“SportBusiness understands the state-owned flag carrier has agreed on a deal to become a top-tier F1 Global Partner from the start of the 2023 season, with the deal expected to be announced ahead of the first race in Bahrain from March 3-5.”
Years of the Red Emirates Boarding by the F1 Tracks
Back in 2013, Emirates and Formula 1 came to a sponsorship agreement for all races on the calendar. Besides, EK could also set up its very own fan zones and provide a better class of service to visitors possessing special tickets.
As the second UAE flag carrier states, “We’ve been a Global Partner of F1® since 2013, and our iconic branding is featured prominently on race tracks across Europe, Asia, Australasia, North America, and South America. In 2019, we renewed our branding with the new Fly Better Promise.”
“During the signing of the F1 sponsorship, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, said: ‘This is an exciting global opportunity to align two world-leading brands. The ambition, cutting-edge technological standards, and worldwide reach of Formula 1 go hand in hand with Emirates’ vision and ambition.”
Hefty Price Tag to Take Over, but Qatar Airways Is Ready
Why the abrupt end to a decade-long sponsorship? It’s too high an asking fee. Until now, EK’s contract with the motorsport organization stood at €25m a year, but it’s believed the new asking threshold sits at approximately twice that value.
As SportBusiness reported back in November 2022, “Formula 1 is lining up a new airline sponsor after renewal discussions with Dubai-based carrier Emirates broke down over the asking price. The deadline for the global airline to extend the agreement has passed, and negotiations have ground to a halt, with Formula 1 understood to be asking for around twice the figure of close to US$25m (€25.1m) per year that the brand is understood to have paid in the current cycle from 2018 to 2022.”
After the grand hosting of the Men’s FIFA 2022 World Cup, it’s the next step for QR, and this time not for a single-time event but with Formula 1 for years to come. For the Qatari airline’s frequent fliers with a bagful of miles to redeem, perhaps the carrier could come out with an “experience” package to witness races on the calendar.
Featured image: Fabrizio Spicuglia/Airways