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Emirates Air Line cable car to get a major makeover after London river crossing sponsor drops out

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The look of the London’s Cable Car is set to be transformed after Emirates failed to renew its contract with TfL to sponsor the service to and from the Greenwich peninsula. TfL was at risk of losing nearly £40 million on the controversial scheme over a decade – but has now suggested to MyLondon it has found a last-ditch replacement.

Launched in 2012, the London cable car runs from the Greenwich Peninsula by the O2 to the Royal Docks – the home of the new City Hall. It secured sponsorship from Dubai-based Emirates airline for a decade, but the deal runs out in June 2022 and will not be renewed, leaving cash-strapped TfL at risk of another financial black hole. But TfL has now suggested it has found a new sponsor.

An Emirates spokesperson told MyLondon : “Emirates is proud to have helped establish what has become an iconic part of the London skyline and to have contributed to the regeneration of the local area in the process. We have thoroughly enjoyed a great 10-year partnership, but it is now time to pass the baton onto a new partner. We wish the team behind this unique experience all the very best in the future.”

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The cable car is a key way for workers to get to the new City Hall – now located in Newham

Emirates had spent £36 million on a 10-year naming rights deal, ad site The Drum reported, and any successor will secure a complete overhaul of the cable car’s image – alongside the brand’s name appearing on the London Tube map across thousands of locations. But without a new backer, advertising funding for the expensive transport link will be slashed.

Green Party assembly member Sian Berry, who also chairs the transport committee, told MyLondon she would not be sorry to see Emirates’ branding disappear from the cable car: “It was always extremely incongruous to have such a high carbon sponsor for a part of our public transport network. Ideally we would now fully integrate the cable car into the network, including ticketing and prices, but if TfL does seek a new sponsor it must be one that fits better with London’s ethics and green ambitions.”

In 2011, a press release for the project from City Hall said the cable car would have the capacity to “carry up to 2,500 people per hour” with an “anticipated two million passengers per year.” But TfL data shows that in 2019 the cable car had fewer than 1.3 million passengers. Since May 2021 this has risen to around 1.4 million passengers but ridership figures are lower than anticipated when the scheme was built.

Lib Dem AM and transport committee member Caroline Pidgeon added: “Clearly TfL needs to urgently find a new sponsor for the cable car to cover its cost and more. Having your name on the tube map and network should be very attractive to a sponsor and given that ridership is going back up, it can’t be long before a new deal is made.”

Approached by MyLondon to confirm the future of river crossing, Josh Crompton, TfL’s Head of Cable Car, said: “Our 10 year partnership with Emirates comes to an end on 28 June 2022, as planned, and we will announce the new commercial partner in due course.

“We will work with the new commercial partner to build on the success of the cable car, and help maintain its position as one of the best things to do in London. We know our customers love the unique experience and the spectacular views the cable car offers, which is demonstrated by being highly rated on visitor attraction sites and consistently strong passengers numbers. The relocation of City Hall to the Crystal adds another attraction to the area and we remain committed to building on the success of the cable car with a new partner later this year.”

The cable car service – which costs £10 for a round trip – was designed to “boost the ongoing regeneration of East London” and add a much-needed river crossing in London’s east. TfL commissioner Andy Byford told the London Assembly’s transport committee in March TfL ‘needed’ to find a replacement for Emirates and said he was confident it would be sorted ‘within the next few months’.

He added: “We are very proud of the cable car. My understanding is that we have had interest, nothing that would enable us to let a contract yet but there are a number of agencies or companies that are interested in sponsorship and we are continuing to have that dialogue.”

Want to get in touch? Email [email protected]

Josiah joined MyLondon as the outlet’s first City Hall Editor in October 2021, reporting on the Mayor, the London Assembly, the Met police, Transport for London, and wider London politics.

He moved to South London from Brussels in 2015, working in communications for the Electoral Reform Society, and covering Westminster politics as a freelance journalist. Originally from Cornwall, he is now also a proud Londoner. Josiah has appeared on BBC Radio 4, Times Radio, LBC and other outlets to discuss current affairs and general political chaos.

If you have an untold story – whether it’s a housing nightmare, an unfair decision or a local scandal, get in touch at [email protected] or contact Josiah on Twitter.

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/future-emirates-air-line-cable-24155436