National flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY), which has been undertaking significant sponsorships on a global scale, is set to showcase the Superclasico, one of the world's largest and most prominent derbies in Latin America. The carrier has also become the main sponsor of one of the most famous ice hockey clubs in the world, Russia's HC Spartak Moscow.
The proposal came from Rodolfo D'Onofrio, the head of Argentinian River Plate, which is one of the two legendary teams of Superclasico, according to a report in Turkish daily Habertürk. Reportedly, D'Onofrio will visit Turkey to discuss the details with THY Chairman İlker Aycı in the upcoming days. THY will soon have its logo on River Plate uniforms and at Estadio Monumental Antonio V. Liberti Stadium. The report said the deal is about to be finalized.
Meanwhile, Qatar Airways sponsors Boca Juniors, the rival of River in the Superclasico derby. Boca signed a three-year sponsorship agreement with Qatar Airlines last year. Then, River made an offer to THY on uniforms, the use of stadiums and social media cooperation. In addition to THY and Qatar Airways, airline companies such as Emirates, Lufthansa and Air France offer flights to Buenos Aires where the richest businessmen in Latin America live.
THY is one of the most important airlines on the Brazil-Argentina route in Latin America where it conducts flights every day. Like THY, other rival airline companies also fly to Argentina in connection with Brazil.
The report said the details of the sponsorship talks between River Plate and THY were obtained from Şefik Vural Altay, the Turkish ambassador to Argentina. Underlining that THY's sponsorship agreement will make a major contribution to improving friendship between Turkey and Argentina, Altay said that the relations have a long history. Altay recalled that the first consulate was established in 1910, a friendship agreement was signed in 1926 and both countries opened embassies in each other in 1936.
In 2018, 68,000 tourists came to Turkey from Argentina, which has a population of 45 million with a surface area three times that of Turkey, marking a nearly 50 percent rise compared to the previous year. This rise was driven by THY and Turkish TV series. Argentina, with an economic size of about $740 billion (GDP) last year, is the third largest economy in Latin America after Brazil and Mexico. The trade volume between the two countries reached $500 million in 2018. While Turkey exported $300 million worth of goods such as vehicles and spare parts to Argentina, it imported $200 million worth of agricultural products from the country, with soya taking the lead.
THY Argentina Manager Yahya Z. Şensoy said that flights to Buenos Aires started Dec. 11, 2012, four days a week, adding that the number of mutual flights increased to seven as a result of deep interest in THY on this line. Şensoy added that they achieved a seat occupancy rate of nearly 85 percent on Istanbul-Sao Paulo-Buenos Aires flights and carried nearly 200,000 passengers last year, adding that THY carried 70 percent of passengers from Argentina to Turkey, while other airline companies carried the remaining 30 percent. Stressing that 78,000 and 68,000 tourists came to Turkey from Brazil and Argentina, respectively, Şensoy said that Cappadocia attracts great interest and Argentinians wander the set of 10 TV series that are broadcast in Argentina. He indicated that "Magnificent Century" (Muhteşem Yüzyıl) started on April 24 and Halit Ergenç, the leading actor in the TV series, is very popular in Argentina.
On the other hand, THY has also become the main sponsor of HC Spartak Moscow, one of the most famous ice hockey clubs in the world. THY had its logo scratched on the ice rink during the HC Spartak Moscow-Sochi game, which attracted thousands of people to the stadium and was watched by millions of people on TV Tuesday evening.
The games on the ice rink, where Russian President Vladimir Putin sometimes appears in uniform during the Night Hockey League tournament, are followed with great interest in Russia.
Speaking to Demirören News Agency (DHA) after the meet, THY Russia General Manager Turan Yardımcı said: "Spartak Moscow games are watched by an average of 10,000 people at the stadium and millions of people on TV. We are proud to have our logo on both uniforms and the ice rink in such an atmosphere. Moreover, the commercial film on Turkey is displayed on the giant screen in the hall and a zeppelin with our logo on it flies at halftime, undoubtedly contributing to the Turkish brand and tourism. Russians now regard us as a part of themselves and embrace us, which is reflected in the number of passengers we carry."
THY, which has the largest flight network among foreign airlines in Russia, offers direct flights to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Ufa, Yekaterinburg, Rostov-on-Don, Voronezh, Kazan, Samara and Krasnodar. It also takes transit passengers from here to more than 300 destinations in the world. THY has long been sponsoring various sports events and teams, including Turkish Airlines World Golf Cup, Turkish Airlines Open, Turkish Airlines Challenge golf tournaments, the European Basketball League and the Turkish Airlines Euroleague.