Virgin Blue has signed on as a major co-sponsor of new Australian Football League (AFL) team the Gold Coast Suns, with the airline’s logo to feature on the back of the Suns’ home jersey and on the front of the team’s clash and away jersey in 2011.
“Virgin Blue is a strong supporter of the Gold Coast and sees the value in supporting the AFL’s newest club and the benefits it will bring to the region in tourism, fan travel and related economic benefits,” said Suns CEO Travis Auld.
The deal also involves Virgin Blue sponsoring a 900 guest corporate lounge at Gold Coast Stadium.
The announcement follows the AFL’s decision last month to drop Qantas as the league’s official airline in favour of Virgin Blue in a deal worth a reported $6 million a year.
The Age has reported that that decision has angered some of the AFL’s clubs and players due to Virgin Blue’s lack of a business class, often used to give extra space for injured players, and its lack of frequencies compared to Qantas, especially on transcontinental routes.
”[The players] are extremely unhappy about Virgin and to what extent it will be able to accommodate the needs of footballers in rehabilitation mode and in terms of travel flexibility,” West Coast Eagles CEO Trevor Nesbitt is reported as saying. “Our people are already looking at how we are going to deal with this and the players’ concerns are with the AFLPA.”
Virgin Blue does plan to introduce two class Airbus A330s on transcontinental routes from Perth from next February.