Tourism Australia has signed a three-year marketing agreement with Etihad Airways worth $6 million as the peak body moves to fill the gap created by the loss of funding from Qantas.
The announcement of the partnership with Etihad comes on top of Virgin Australia announcing it had doubled its marketing partnership with Tourism Australia in a new deal worth $12 million over the next three years.
Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy said the memorandum of understanding with Etihad – the airline’s first with the peak body – would target visitors from the Middle East, United Kingdom and Europe.
“In just five years of flying to Australia, Etihad Airways has demonstrated a strong and growing commitment to its Australian operations,” Mr McEvoy said in a statement.
Etihad Airways chief executive James Hogan said Australia was an important market to the Abu Dhabi-headquartered carrier, with 16 per cent of the airline’s seat capacity dedicated to flights into and out of the country.
“Etihad Airways and Tourism Australia have already started planning a major campaign for the first half of 2013 – together with Virgin Australia – in order to leverage the synergies of the airlines’ joint networks and cooperative marketing spends,” Mr Hogan said in a statement.
Etihad holds about 10 per cent of Virgin Australia stock and the two carriers formed a global alliance in 2010.
In November, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce ended the airline’s partnership with Tourism Australia.
Mr Joyce said the partnership had to be terminated because of Tourism Australia chairman Geoff Dixon’s clear conflict of interest, given he was part of a group of investors proposing to take the airline in a different direction.
At the time of the termination, Qantas was in the last year of a three-year partnership with Tourism Australia worth $44 million.
Under the deal, which was due to end in June 2013, Qantas put in $5 million in cash each year and supplied tickets for media and trade events.
Qantas said it would redirect those funds to state tourism bodies.
“Qantas remains the biggest private investor in promoting Australia to the world,” a Qantas spokesperson said in an emailed statement after the Virgin-Tourism Australia funding boost was announced on December 13.
Tourism Australia had commercial partnerships with about 20 international airlines.