Etihad airline seeks online partnerships for expansion

Etihad, the airline of Abu Dhabi, is searching for online and technology partners, and new sponsorship opportunities, as it pursues its ambitious growth plans.

It is also considering appointing a dedicated digital agency to work alongside TBWA’s Abu Dhabi-based boutique agency, E-Group, which was set up to service the airline.

The airline, which recently placed a $43bn (£22bn) order for new planes, is building its brand as the global face of Abu Dhabi, and forms part of a $200bn (£102bn) tourism development in the Arab state.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad’s executive vice president of marketing and product, says a new TV campaign is being prepared for early next year and that the airline is continuing itshunt for sponsorship opportunities – particularly for digital work.

He says that it is looking to form long-term partnerships with technology companies along the lines of those it has forged with the likes of Chelsea FC and Ferrari.

The carrier’s links with Ferrari have led to the Italian car marque building a theme park in Abu Dhabi, while Etihad is to sponsor the Emirate’s first F1 Grand Prix next year.

Etihad’s massive order for planes, unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show, could see the airline’s fleet of aircraft increasing from 38 to about 250.

“In global terms there has been a shift away from Asia towards the Middle East,” says Baumgartner, “andAbu Dhabi is a natural geographic hub.”

Etihad is also unveiling a new terminal at Abu Dhabi airport and will open dedicated airline lounges at Heathrow next year.

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