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Could Foreign Airlines Expand in the US Through Baseball? The Dodgers Say Yes

Could Foreign Airlines Expand in the US Through Baseball? The Dodgers Say Yes


The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the most famous teams in Major League Baseball (MLB). The team has won seven World Series championships, with the most recent victory in 2020. The Dodgers regularly rank among the MLB franchises with the most fans, alongside teams such as the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Furthermore, according to Forbes, the Dodgers' franchise value of $4.8 billion makes them the second most valuable MLB team. As a result of the Dodgers' popularity and success, multiple airlines have sponsored the team over the years. 




The Dodgers partnered with Southwest Airlines and Emirates in the past before switching to its current sponsor: Taiwan's Starlux Airlines. In recent years, the Dodgers' status as a global brand was enough to get two foreign airlines to sponsor the team. These carriers have good reason to work with the Dodgers since the team's large fanbase represents potential U.S. passengers who could fly with them.


Photo: Lum Wei Tuck | AeroXplorer


The Dodgers are currently in a partnership with Taiwan's Starlux Airlines. Both entities signed an agreement on April 11, shortly after the start of the 2023 regular season on March 30. Starlux saw the deal as a way to showcase its commitment to the Los Angeles market. The airline launched nonstop service to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) from its hub at Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) in Taipei on April 26. 




Starlux's partnership with the Dodgers includes much more than being the team's official airline. The carrier's logo appears at various points at Dodger Stadium, such as the pavilion roof sign and the outfield wall. Furthermore, Starlux provides Dodgers-themed amenities on its flights between Los Angeles and Taipei. These amenities include themed meal packaging, luggage tags, and boarding passes.


Photo: Thomas Tse | AeroXplorer


Starlux saw the Los Angeles Dodgers as an effective way to market its brand to U.S. passengers. Los Angeles is a major gateway for travel between the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific region. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines use Los Angeles as one of their transpacific hubs. Furthermore, the Dodgers have a strong connection to Taiwan.




Corey Norkin, the Dodgers' Senior Vice President of Global Partnerships, said the following about the deal in April: "The Dodgers have a rich history across Asia and welcomed the first Taiwan-born player to the team in 2002, so we are beyond thrilled to welcome our first Taiwan-based airline more than 20 years later."


Photo: William Pierre | AeroXplorer


The Dodgers' current partnership with Starlux replaces a previous sponsorship deal with Emirates. In 2016, Emirates announced its first baseball initiative by signing a sponsorship agreement with the Dodgers. Although the airline has flown to the U.S. for years, this was its first time working with one of the most popular American sports. 




Like Starlux, Emirates saw baseball as a way to promote its brand in the U.S. market. The airline has expanded its international presence by partnering with some of the world's most famous sports brands. These brands include Real Madrid, Arsenal, and various tennis events. Emirates wanted to expand further into the U.S. by sponsoring a sport with a large national fanbase. After all, this model has worked with major football teams in the European market.


Photo: Aidan Mordin | AeroXplorer


Emirates' partnership with the Dodgers included a variety of initiatives. The airline had a home plate, foul pole signage, and an Emirates Lounge at Dodger Stadium. Emirates was also involved in ceremonial first pitches, fan appreciation activities, and in-game activations. Furthermore, Emirates and the Dodgers sponsored the Dubai Little League Divisional Teams, changing their name to the Dubai Dodgers.




The Dodgers' multi-year deal with Emirates expired this year when the team signed another agreement with Starlux. Emirates appears to have succeeded in promoting its brand to potential passengers in the Los Angeles region. The airline offers daily nonstop service between Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Los Angeles with its Airbus A380 aircraft.


Photo: Thomas Tse | AeroXplorer


The Dodgers' last two airline sponsors from other countries highlight the team's popularity with fans worldwide. Before Starlux and Emirates, the Dodgers had Southwest Airlines as their official airline. Southwest sponsored the Dodgers for the 2015 season.


The Dodgers' trend with airline sponsors suggests that foreign carriers could expand their North American presence by sponsoring baseball teams. Aside from EVA Air's partnerships with the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels, the Dodgers are the only MLB team that works with an airline outside the U.S. or Canada. The other teams use North American carriers such as United, WestJet, and Delta as their official airlines. As airlines worldwide look to attract passengers in North America, baseball could be one way to win the hearts of potential customers.

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