After winning the Champions League, German football club FC Bayern Munich flew home with Lufthansa instead of sponsor Qatar Airways. How it came about.
One winner was determined from the beginning. Qatar Airways is sponsoring both football clubs that faced each other in the Champions League final on Sunday evening at Lisbon’s Estádio da Luz. The golf airline is one of the main sponsors of both Paris Saint-Germain and FC Bayern Munich.
Qatar Airways immediately congratulated the Bavarian club on its success. «Congratulations to the new champions. With commitment and hard work, this world-class team has inspired millions and made history with a well-deserved victory», the airline said. Gary Lineker’s quote seems to have become reality again: «…and in the end it is always the Germans who win».
No advertising with Lufthansa
It was not Qatar Airways that flew FC Bayern Munich back home from Lisbon for the triumphant reception, but Lufthansa. The German airline’s Airbus A350 was honoured with a water salute on arrival at Munich Airport on Monday (August 24). After the victorious players had left the aircraft, they posed in front of it – and this was seen live on television.
Qatar Airways therefore missed one of the most important PR moments in its sponsorship ever. The Doha-based airline did not comment. A spokesman for FC Bayern Munich, however, explains to aeroTELEGRAPH that the flight «had of course been agreed to with Qatar Airways». At matches in Germany and Europe, it had repeatedly rented planes from other airlines, the club says. And the Lufthansa flight was not used for advertising either.
In theory, Qatar Airways could have flown the team
Official imagery by FC Bayern Munich does not show the temporary Siegerflieger («Winner’s plane») or the airline’s titles. However, some players posted pictures from the plane on their own channels, on which the Lufthansa logo is clearly visible. Player Thomas Müller, for example, took a personal picture of himself in Business Class with his team mates and the trophy.
The question remains why Qatar Airways did not fly the winning team. Charter flights under the so-called seventh freedom (between two countries of which neither is the airline’s home) are theoretically possible in the European Union. However, both the country of departure and the destination country must approve the flight first. Particularly during the Coronavirus crisis, such authorisations were repeatedly granted, especially for chartered cargo flights.
Aviation agreement with Qatar
Things will be easier for Qatar Airways in the future. The European Union has negotiated an aviation agreement with the state of Qatar. It grants airlines from the EU and the Gulf state mutually unlimited market access.
In 2019, the two governments agreed on all key points. However, the agreement has not yet been implemented in practice.