Saudi Arabian carrier Riyadh Air and prominent Spanish football club Atlético de Madrid have announced a multi-year relationship designating the airline as the principal and official airline partner of the club.

The airline stated that this collaboration is set to reach millions of fans across the world, in addition to having Riyadh Air’s presence on the team’s shirts. 

The airline recently debuted its livery at the Paris Air Show with its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Atlético de Madrid CEO Miguel Ángel Gil emphasised the potential the new partnership holds for the Red and Whites football club.

Gil said: “We are delighted to welcome Riyadh Air as our new main sponsor of the club. This partnership signifies a great opportunity to offer better experiences to our fans around the world and I am confident that this alliance with Riyadh Air will elevate our club to new heights.”

Riyadh Air’s plans include services to and from more than 100 destinations, forming part of a Saudi push to see 100 million tourist arrivals per year by 2030.

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Douglas said the airline and club collaboration works because both are in the business of “connecting people.”

Douglas said: “It is an incredibly exciting day for Riyadh Air as we enter a long-term partnership with Atlético de Madrid, one of Europe’s greatest clubs, to become their main and official airline partner.

“We believe that this partnership is a perfect match, as both Riyadh Air and Atlético share a commitment to excellence and a passion for connecting people and cultures around the world. This airline created global waves when we recently launched our stunning livery and with this partnership, once again we are surprising the world as we move towards our maiden flight in 2025.”

According to a GlobalData sponsorship sector report, soccer is the most prominently sponsored sport for airlines to sign deals with. Currently, 40% of airline sports deals are collaborations with soccer teams, federations and venues.

GlobalData found that teams and federations frequently want to align themselves with Middle Eastern airlines in particular because of the enormous revenues many of them can provide.

GlobalData says: “The Middle East airline brands currently account for 53.5% of airline spending within sports sponsorship and this will further increase in the coming years.”