Posted on March 04, 2013

Qatar Airways will enter into a strategic partnership with football giants FC Barcelona that sees the airline’s brand name appear on first team shirts from the start of the 2013/14 season.

The three-year agreement with the runaway Spanish league leaders and former winners of the Champions League will be effective from 1 July 2013. Qatar Airways will become the club’s Global Main Partner, signalling the first time the airline has engaged in a sponsorship with a major soccer club.   

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker, left, at a press conference in Barcelona to announce a strategic partnership with football giants FC Barcelona. With him are Club president Sandro Rosell, centre, and club Vice-President for Economy and Strategy, Javier Faus

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said it will be a unique partnership between the World’s Best Club and the Best Airline in the World, describing the alignment with Barca as a “fitting match for both organisations, which will elevate the brands to a new platform on the global stage and sharing the same values – passionate about being the best at what we do in our respective fields.”

Al Baker was joined by FC Barcelona president Sandro Rosell to announce the upcoming partnership at a joint Press Conference held at the club’s home stadium, Camp Nou earlier today. “FC Barcelona is a club that exemplifies passion, pride, heritage and culture at its core. These are values we share, admire and are fundamental to Qatar Airways,” said Al Baker.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, centre, flanked by FC Barcelona club president Sandro Rosell, left, and club Vice-President for Economy and Strategy Javier Faus, together with cabin crew following a press conference in the Catalonian capital

“Qatar Airways is entering a new chapter in our short history. We look forward to working with, and engaging with, the club, the fans and the people of Barcelona to help make a real difference through this exciting new partnership. It is great pride for my airline and my country to see Qatar Airways feature on FC Barcelona’s first-team shirts from next season.

“We know and understand the passion of the people of Catalonia, who live and breathe football. Football is a religion for tens of millions of fans globally. At Qatar Airways, we are able to bridge supporters and communities linking Barcelona with millions of loyal fans around the world.”

He added: “Sport is a key pillar of our growth strategy, in line with the long-term vision of the State of Qatar’s inspiring leader The Emir, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, to develop sport as fundamental element to our country’s development. Qatar Airways has been actively developing its sports strategy, tying up with organisations in Qatar and overseas that match our aspirations – and FC Barcelona is an example of an institution that clearly fits in with our strategy.”

FC Barcelona, the reigning Copa del Rey – Spanish Cup – champions, is a club steeped in history dating back more than 100 years. Owned by the fans and by the people of Catalonia, the club is one of the richest in the world, home to world-class players, including the world’s best player Lionel Messi.

Club president Sandro Rosell said: “From July 1, we will be able to work with global company Qatar Airways, with whom we share many things such as the search for excellence. This sponsorship deal will bring great advantages, not just for the Club, but also for our city and our country.”

He also thanked current shirt sponsors Qatar Foundation: “This is an organisation we have had a very productive relationship with during these last two years and which we will continue to be connected with.” Qatar Foundation will continue its relationship with FC Barcelona as Human Development Partner.

A packed press conference at the Camp Nou, home FC Barcelona, witness the official announcement of a new three-year strategic partnership between Qatar Airways and the European football giants

As part of the agreement with Qatar Airways, the airline’s name will adorn, from the start of the 2013/14 season, Barca first-team shirts at La Liga matches across Spain, Champions League matches across Europe, as well as friendly matches, including FC Barcelona’s pre-season tours.

The airline will be working with FC Barcelona on creating joint initiatives, centering on added value flight and holiday packages for fans globally, as well as a host of community programmes involving loyal followers across the world ensuring both brands remain at the pinnacle of their respective fields.

Akbar Al Baker, left, presents a commemorative gift to FC Barcelona club president Sandro Rosell after announcing a strategic tie-up

Qatar Airways has been present in Spain for over seven years, initially launching flights to the capital Madrid, before introducing Barcelona to its network in June 2010.

The carrier now operates 17 services each week to and from Spain – daily non-stop between Doha and Madrid, and a further 10 weekly flights linking Barcelona with the Qatari capital and onward connections to scores of destinations across the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific.

Qatar Airways cabin crew proudly pose in front of the FC Barcelona logo at the Camp Nou, home of the soccer giants

Since launching flights to the Mediterranean hotspot, Qatar Airways has flown hundreds of thousands of tourists and business travellers to Barcelona, proving to be an active supporter of the local economy and local tourism industry, helping create jobs in the process. Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 16 years of operations, currently flying a modern fleet of 121 aircraft to 125 key business and leisure destinations worldwide.

Over the next few weeks and months, Qatar Airways will launch scheduled flights to a diverse portfolio of new routes, including Chicago, USA (April 10); Salalah, Oman (May 22); Chengdu, China, at a date to be confirmed, and many more start-ups to be announced.

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