Emirates mulling sponsorship in Spain

"We have sponsored all the way to New Zealand, Australia, the Far East, Europe and America," Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum told a small group of reporters during an international sports conference.

"This year we will be flying to Spain so you may see us there (with a sponsorship deal)," he said, after listing the soccer teams the company is already sponsoring, which include Italy's AC Milan, Germany's Hamburg SV and France's Paris Saint-Germain.

Asked by Reuters whether a potential football deal would involve a club from the capital Madrid, with both La Liga clubs Real and Atletico based there, or Barcelona, he did not want to specify.

"Up to now we have more been in the capitals," said Sheikh Ahmed with a smile. "Like London, Paris."

"Soccer is the most expensive sponsorship...but we are also in sailing and in cricket," he said, adding that both the Arsenal deal and the former sponsorship of Premier League leaders Chelsea had been fruitful for the airline.

"I will not say which one was better. But for us they were both very good," he said.

Emirates, also a sponsor of this summer's football World Cup, has grown to be the world's 10th-largest airline by scheduled passenger-kilometres flown, according to IATA.

The carrier, which started in 1985 with two planes, has grown to rival airlines such as Qantas Airways and Singapore Airlines for passenger traffic between Europe and East Asia.

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