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The Shohei Ohtani Effect: Los Angeles Dodgers Introduce ANA and STARLUX as Official Airlines

The Shohei Ohtani Effect: Los Angeles Dodgers Introduce ANA and STARLUX as Official Airlines

BY GEORGE MWANGI Published on April 12, 2024 0 COMMENTS

The Los Angeles Dodgers have already had an eventful season, even though it only started on March 28. After spending five years with the Angels, the world-famous Shohei Ohtani signed a ten-year, $700 million contract to join the Dodgers. Ohtani currently holds the world's largest contract in professional sports history based on his strong performance. Despite allegations that Ohtani's interpreter stole $16 million from him, the Japanese pitcher and designated hitter is expected to have a successful season.

 

ANA to be official Japanese airline of Ohtani's LA Dodgers | Reuters
A Shohei Ohtani mural on the side of a hotel in Downtown Los Angeles | Photo: Reuters

 

Ohtani's popularity has incentivized the Dodgers to expand their presence in East Asian countries. The team played two games against the San Diego Padres in Seoul as part of the MLB World Tour: Seoul Series on March 20 and 21. The Dodgers and Padres each won one game in the first Major League Baseball (MLB) matches played in South Korea. Baseball is also popular in Ohtani's home country of Japan, with the Dodgers planning a Japanese Heritage Night event during their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 2.

 

The Dodgers' connection to East Asia goes back to when Hideo Nomo played for the team in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Since then, the team's current and former rosters have included players from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. The franchise's Asian connection later expanded to its airline sponsors after working with United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Emirates in previous seasons

 

Emirates A380 LA Dodgers Livery - Features - Infinite Flight Community
Emirates previously had an Airbus A380 with Dodgers livery | Photo: Emirates

 

Starlux Airlines

 

The Dodgers introduced Starlux Airlines as its official carrier for the 2023 season, alongside launching nonstop flights between Taipei (TPE) and Los Angeles (LAX) in April 2023. Both entities later announced a three-year partnership extension in January 2024, with Starlux becoming the Dodgers' Exclusive Taiwanese Airline Partner. The carrier highlighted its commitment to the Los Angeles market beyond simply offering flights, especially with the area's large Taiwanese American community.

 



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Starlux's presence at Dodger Stadium includes having a permanent pavilion roof sign and its name on the outfield wall. Starlux also offers Dodgers-branded items on its flights from Los Angeles to Taipei. These amenities include themed boarding passes, luggage tags, and stickers provided during check-in. Passengers then receive branded cups, stirring sticks, playing cards, napkins, and children's meal boxes during their flight. 

 

Peso Pluma throws first pitch to Julio Urias at Dodgers game | Marca
A Starlux Airlines logo in Dodger Stadium | Photo: Twitter

 

Starlux CEO Glenn Chai said about the success of the Dodgers partnership:

 

"This past season saw the Dodgers' most attended games in the MLB and the STARLUX Los Angeles-Taipei route became one of the hottest tickets among travelers between the U.S. and Asia. The 2024 MLB season promises to be even better, it's Sho-time!"

 

The Dodgers have a large international audience that has only grown after winning the World Series in 2020 and singing Ohtani this season. Starlux is using the team's global brand to attract new passengers and encourage them to visit Taiwan. The carrier uses Airbus A350-900 aircraft for its daily Taipei-Los Angeles service. Starlux's A350-900s have four seats in first class, 26 in business class, 36 in premium economy, and 240 in economy class. The airline also serves San Francisco (SFO) and will introduce flights to Seattle (SEA) on August 16.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers Partner With Taiwan-Based Starlux Airlines –  SportsTravel
Photo: Starlux Airlines

 

All Nippon Airways

 

The Dodgers expanded their Asian aviation footprint by naming All Nippon Airways (ANA) as their Official Japanese Airline Partner on April 1. The multi-year agreement includes ANA branding on the outfield wall and in signage behind the home plate at Dodger Stadium. ANA will also be featured in select team media interviews and will be the presenting partner for certain promotional stadium giveaways. This agreement now means branding from two Asian carriers will appear at Dodger Stadium.

 



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The Dodgers’ Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer Lon Rosen said about the partnership agreement:

 

“The Dodgers are excited to take flight with All Nippon Airways as a corporate partner for the 2024 season and beyond. We are taking advantage of several of our platforms to showcase the ANA brand. Together, these displays will drive brand exposure for ANA to more than 4 million in-stadium fans and millions of fans watching from home.”

 

ANA flies nonstop to Los Angeles from its two Tokyo hub airports: Haneda (HND) and Narita (NRT). The airline offers two daily flights to NRT and three to HND, with all routes using Boeing 787-9 or 787-10 Dreamliners. The region has a large Japanese American community, with downtown Los Angeles having a Little Tokyo neighborhood. 

 

Cardinals @ Dodgers
An ANA logo at Dodger Stadium during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals | Photo: Major League Baseball

 

Other Airlines Sponsoring Los Angeles Sports Teams

 

Los Angeles is a unique aviation market since four major U.S. carriers - Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines - have hubs at LAX. The airport is also an operating base for Allegiant Air, JetBlue, and Southwest Airlines. Furthermore, the city’s role as a major tourist destination and international business hub means many foreign carriers fly there. 

 

U.S. carriers often get more involved in the cities with their hub airports by partnering with local sports teams. Some airlines, such as American Airlines in the Dallas-Fort Worth region and Delta Air Lines in Atlanta, sponsor franchises across multiple leagues. However, Los Angeles area teams have more options for airline partners since several have hubs or operating bases at LAX.

 

Los Angeles Clippers sign partnership with Starlux Airlines
Photo: Los Angeles Clippers

 

These are the official carriers of other teams and stadiums in the Los Angeles sports market:

 

  • American Airlines: SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles Chargers (NFL), and Los Angeles Rams (NFL)
  • Avelo Airlines: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins
  • Delta Air Lines: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles Lakers (NBA), and Los Angeles Kings (NHL) 
  • EVA Air: Los Angeles Angels (MLB)
  • Fiji Airways: LA Galaxy (MLS)
  • Starlux Airlines: Los Angeles Clippers (NBA)
  • United Airlines: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (also known as United Airlines Field) and the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans

 

United Airlines realizes major branding moment in Los Angeles - Chicago  Business Journal
Photo: Chicago Business-Journal

 

Furthermore, the MLS’ Los Angeles FC signed partnership agreements with Delta and Aeroméxico in January 2017. Meanwhile, the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks introduced ANA as a corporate partner in September 2017. The status of these partnerships is currently unknown since these carriers are not listed as official partners this season, and no information has been released since 2017. Collegiate and professional sports teams in the Los Angeles area will always have new opportunities for airline sponsors.

 



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George Mwangi
Aviation writer based in Washington, DC. Visited 21 countries on thousands of miles of flights.

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