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Will U.S. airlines try to get the NFL and the MLB on their side?

With the battle for Open Skies still dragging on, Etihad Airways is taking a new approach to making its side of the debate heard with two moves aimed squarely at raising its visibility in Washington, D.C.

Etihad Airways announced that it signed a partnership agreement with Monumental Sports and Entertainment to become the exclusive airline partner of the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals, the National Basketball Association’s Washington Wizards, the Women’s National Basketball Association’s Washington Mystics, as well as Washington’s Verizon Center sports complex.

This builds on the airline’s existing sport sponsorship portfolio including as official airline partner of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Nation’s Triathlon, which takes place annually in Washington, D.C.

“Etihad Airways is a prestigious international brand known for its hospitality, service and global reach,” said Ted Leonsis, founder, chairman and majority owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment. “As a legacy partner, Etihad Airways provides that official connection to our diverse and international community and the growing interest in sports worldwide. Our teams are international, our players are international, our city is international and our partnership with Etihad builds on those commonalities.”

On the tourism marketing front, Etihad sponsored a Brand USA reception at Dubai’s Armani Hotel during the annual Arabian Travel Market (ATM) held in Dubai last week.

Over two hundred senior travel industry professionals and media attended as Etihad Airways and Brand USA “reaffirmed their commitment to forging closer ties and to work closely to find common synergies in their shared goal of promoting travel and tourism between the UAE and the USA.”

Shane O’Hare, Etihad Airways Senior Vice President Marketing said: “In 2014, we carried 801,465 guests to and from the United States. The country is very much in demand from Emiratis traveling for leisure or on business, and is a vitally important part of our growth plans. Together with our partner airlines, such as Jet Airways, we have also made it easier than ever for travelers from across the Indian subcontinent and other parts of Asia to connect seamlessly through Abu Dhabi onto our services to the USA.”

Etihad Airways said that it will support Brand USA to find “opportunities for joint promotional activity into the United States.”

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Tags: etihad, open skies

Photo credit: Officials from Monumental Sports and Entertainment with jerseys sporting Etihad's name in Washington, D.C. Etihad Airways

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