Qantas confirms end of Wallabies sponsorship
- 25 September, 2020 11:01
Qantas has dropped its Wallabies team sponsorship and is ending a number of arts and creative associations as it works to cope with the COVID-19 crisis fallout and to conserve cash.
The ASX-listed airline confirmed this week it is ending its relationship with the Wallabies Rugby Union team after 30 years at the end of 2020, citing the pandemic for the partnership’s undoing. It’s one of five key sporting partnerships Qantas has maintained in recent years and now reviewed, alongside Cricket Australia, the Football Federation of Australia, and the Australian Olympic and Paralympic Australia.
In a statement, the company said it would continue its association with both Olympic bodies with a view to supporting athletes through the Tokyo Games in 2021. Qantas also said it was continuing links with Cricket Australia and the Football Federation of Australia on an “in-kind” basis over the next 12 months, with a review due at that time.
But as Qantas chief customer officer, Stephanie Tully, put it, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the airline to cut ties with Rugby Australia and brought the need for the cash costs of its sponsorships to be zero.
“In an environment where thousands of our people have lost jobs and thousands more are stood down while they wait for flying to restart, we can’t maintain these sponsorships in the way we have in the past. While we’re dealing with this crisis and its aftermath, the cash cost of our sponsorships has to be zero,” Tully said.
“Without exception, our partners have been incredibly understanding of the situation, particularly as most are facing their own COVID challenges.
“Qantas has had a very long association with Rugby Australia and the Wallabies, and we’ve stuck with each other during difficult times. Unfortunately, this pandemic has been the undoing. Like all Australians, we’ll continue to cheer them on from the sidelines.”
Tully also confirmed Qantas is ending several arts and community sponsorships, but said it’s agreed to maintain a connection with several, including the National Gallery of Australia and Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, in the hope of working on projects in the future.
“Our focus right now is getting through this crisis, which unfortunately means lots of difficult decisions like these,” Tully continued. “We know things will eventually recover and, when they do, we’ll be ready to support Australian cultural and sporting life, in whatever form that takes.”
Meantime, Qantas reiterated its commitment to its work with Indigenous and regional communities, including through its five-year Regional Grants program. And it’s continuing to work closely with Tourism Australia and state-based tourism bodies to provide in-kind support aimed at stimulating domestic tourism as borders re-open, and international travel once it’s possible to do so.
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