Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, today announced it had forged a new, long-term strategic partnership with Ireland’s Gaelic Athletic Association.
The multi-million Euro deal includes sponsoring the GAA’s Hurling All Ireland Senior Championship for the next five years.
Etihad Airways will also become the naming rights sponsor of the spectacular new Skyline landmark tourist attraction at Croke Park, which will open in June, 2012.
The 17-storey high Etihad Airways Skyline at Croke Park involves a roof top tour of the stadium and includes spectacular views of Dublin from five different viewing platforms atop three stands, as well as a suspended walkway.
The partnership is a further dramatic demonstration of Etihad Airways’ commitment to Ireland since launching flights to Dublin in July, 2007 and becoming a key sponsor of the Championship eight months later.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “I am delighted that we are strengthening our relationship with the GAA and extending a partnership that has worked so well for both organisations.
“Hurling is one of the world’s most remarkable sports and it epitomises the passion of the Irish people who have also been great supporters of Etihad Airways.
“This strategic partnership is an example of the way we try to embed ourselves into the local culture of our destination markets and work with the local community.”
Criostóir Ó Cuana, President of the GAA, said: “We are delighted to confirm Etihad Airways’ extension to their sponsorship of our GAA Hurling Championship and look forward to working in partnership with them for at least five more years.
“In their time as partners with the GAA, Etihad Airways has brought a fresh approach to the promotion of the unique game that is hurling and their success in involving our clubs and supporters in their innovative and imaginative community initiatives has been outstanding.
“Equally, taking the M Donnelly Inter-provincial final in 2009 to Abu Dhabi helped us to showcase the game to a wider audience.
“Etihad Airways’ support of our new Skyline facility is a further acknowledgement of their commitment to Gaelic games and in this instance to Croke Park in particular and we look forward to many more years in fruitful partnership with this leading international brand.”
Etihad Airways’ marketing activity in the first year of its sponsorship of the Championship was awarded the European Sponsorship of the Year in the Business to Consumer category by the European Sponsorship Association (ESA).
The ESA Awards are the only pan-European sponsorship awards celebrating excellence across all sectors - sport, culture, entertainment, media and corporate social responsibility.
Late last year Etihad Airways launched a major recruitment drive in Ireland, hiring 59
new Irish employees to support its growth around the world. The airline now has 108 Irish staff employed across its global network, 22 of whom are based in Dublin.
This number is expected to grow in the coming months and more company recruitment fairs are planned for April and July in both Dublin and Cork.
Etihad Airways has flown more than 753,000 passengers between Abu Dhabi and Dublin over the last five years and currently operates 10 flights a week between the two capital cities.
Other investments in Ireland have included the opening of a premium lounge at Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2 in February last year and a Line Maintenance Facility in June 2010.
Photo: Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Criostóir Ó Cuana and James Hogan, right, President and CEO, Ethiad Airways, in attendance at signing of the Ethiad Airways new multi Euro sponsorship deal with the GAA.