Soft Landing

    • Airlines spend $761 million per year on sports partnerships.

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Australian airline Qantas has ended a 30-year partnership with Rugby Australia early, potentially a sign of things to come in the sponsorship space. “While we’re dealing with this crisis and its aftermath, the cash cost of our sponsorships has to be zero,” Qantas Chief Customer Officer Stephanie Tully said in a statement.

Airline travel in 2020 is expected to fall by as much as 70% globally compared to 2019, a huge blow to an industry that spends more than $761 million per year on sports partnerships. Currently, there are about 700,000 passengers a day in the U.S., a third of the normal rate.

Global sports sponsorship fees are expected to decline 37% overall in 2020 — the airline segment led all categories with a 61% drop. The long-term impact is still unknown as airlines remain a key cog in partnerships, with Delta signing on to be a founding partner for LA28 and Team USA for $400 million in late February.

Major U.S. Airlines’ Recent Quarterly Earnings Reports:

American Airlines: 86% decline in revenue

Delta Air Lines: 88% decline in revenue

Southwest Airlines: 82% decline in revenue

United Airlines: 87% decline in revenue