In another sign that Etihad Airways, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier, is serious about the United States market, the company announced Tuesday that has become the official airline of Major League Soccer.
According to the release, this means Etihad will advertise on “pitch-side” LEDs, as well on television and digital properties affiliated with the soccer league. Etihad sponsors a bunch of sports properties throughout the world, most of which are unfamiliar to Americans. They include the Manchester City Football Club, the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, the Harlequins Rugby Club, and the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Not to knock MLS, but my guess is that partnership rights for the league are relatively reasonably priced. Presumably, we’ll now see Etihad advertising at Stubhub Center, where the L.A. Galaxy and Chivas USA (soon to change its name) play soccer games.
Starting in June, Etihad will fly daily between Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi. According to the release, the carrier is working on building its own lounge for premium customers at LAX. For now, the airline serves New York, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. It is also adding Dallas in December, three times per week.