Riyadh Air, the brand new Saudia Arabian airline which doesn’t plan to operate its first flight until early 2025 at the earliest, has just scored its first international soccer club sponsorship deal after it won the rights to become Atlético Madrid’s main front-of-shirt sponsor.
The multi-year-agreement will see Riyadh Air become the main sponsor and official airline partner of the La Liga club. Riyadh Air did not disclose how much the deal was worth or how many years the deal would last.
The sponsorship deal will, however, help the fledgling airline reach an entirely new audience, not only in Spain but across Europe and around the world.
Backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, money is almost no object for Riyadh Air and it’s to be expected that the carrier is targeting many more sponsorship deals across multiple sports to reach different audiences.
The competition for deals will, though, be tough. Emirates was the first Persian Gulf airline to discover the power of marketing through sports sponsorships and partnerships, but even it lost out to the rights to sponsor Formula 1 earlier this year after rival Qatar Airways trumped its bid.
Emirates has, however, managed to retain its highly successful partnership with Premier League team Arsenal, and has other sponsorships deals with AC Milan, Olympique Lyonnais, and Real Madrid C.F.
United Airlines also scored its own soccer sponsorship deal earlier this year after it became the front-of-shirt sponsor for the Ryan Reynolds-backed Welsh club Wrexham AFC.
On Thursday, however, it was all smiles for Riyadh Air CEO Tony Douglas after the partnership with Atlético Madrid was officially unveiled.
“It is an incredibly exciting day for Riyadh Air as we enter into a long-term partnership with Atlético de Madrid, one of Europe’s biggest clubs, to become their main sponsor and official airline partner,” Douglas commented.
“With this agreement, we are once again surprising the world as we move towards our inaugural flight in 2025. We look forward to working closely with our friends at Atlético de Madrid to deliver innovative and exciting experiences for football fans and travellers.”
Riyadh Air has ordered as many as 72 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, although the airline remains locked in talks with both Airbus and Boeing on a single-aisle aircraft order for its regional services.
It’s understood, however, that Boeing is seeking to close a deal with Riyadh Air for as many as 150 of its 737MAX single-aisle planes but the aerospace giant is up against stiff competition from its European rival.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.