SIA signs 3-year deal as S'pore GP backer

National carrier extends title sponsorship to enhance brand as Covid-19 restrictions ease

As Covid-19 concerns ease worldwide and air travel picks up, Singapore Airlines announced yesterday it will continue as title sponsor of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix for three more years.

The new deal will start with this year's Sept 30-Oct 2 race, which returns to the F1 calendar after a two-year absence owing to the pandemic.

SIA executive vice-president (commercial) Lee Lik Hsin said: "The race will be warmly welcomed by Singapore residents and visitors alike, and will enhance our reputation as a global city.

"SIA's extension of its title sponsorship signals our continued support for both tourism and sports, complements the expansion of our global network, and will bolster Singapore's recovery as a key international air hub."

Brandon Snow, F1's managing director of commercial, added: "This year's race will see further use of renewable energy and sustainable materials, and the commitments from Singapore Airlines towards sustainable aviation fuels reflect the continued alignment between all partners and F1 in reducing environmental impact."

In January, the Singapore Tourism Board and race organisers Singapore GP announced that the Republic will continue to host the night race until 2028. This is the fourth and longest contract renewal.

SIA first signed as the title sponsor in 2014 for four years, and subsequently extended it in 2018 and 2020 for two years respectively.

Its initial partnership was believed to be worth between $10 million and $15 million annually, and reportedly $10 million a year for the next two years. The value of the later terms is not known.

The national carrier racked up $4.27 billion in net losses in the 12 months up to March 31 last year as air travel halted almost completely. In February, the group unveiled a profit of $85 million for the third quarter ended Dec 31 last year, their first quarterly profit since Covid-19 struck.

But with restrictions gradually being lifted globally, Deloitte South-east Asia sports business group leader James Walton felt that SIA's renewal makes sense in a limited pool of Singapore brands that could do with international exposure.

He said: "It's in SIA and the government's interest to get Singapore back on the map as an international travel hub, as a tourism destination or as a fly-through location on to Australia or the rest of Asia. This is key to the Singapore economy and SIA's recovery."

About 1.14 million passengers passed through Changi Airport in March, the first time the one million mark was crossed since borders were shut two years ago because of Covid-19.

Walton added: "As people are travelling again and thinking about who they travel with, SIA is a candidate... It is a very sophisticated organisation in terms of how it looks at marketing ROI and how it makes sure it gets the benefits of any sponsorship.

"It obviously believes there is a significant opportunity, and with Formula One being sold out all over the world so far this year, it seems there is a resurgence in the sport which SIA can benefit from."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 15, 2022, with the headline SIA signs 3-year deal as S'pore GP backer. Subscribe