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Emirates Air Line cable car to get facelift after London river crossing sponsor drops out

The look of the London 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 stood to lose almost £40million on the controversial plan over a decade – but have now suggested to MyLondon they have found a last-minute replacement.

Launched in 2012, the London Cable Car connects the Greenwich Peninsula via the O2 to the Royal Docks – the home of the new City Hall. He secured sponsorship from Dubai-based airline Emirates for a decade, but the deal expires in June 2022 and will not be renewed, leaving TfL strapped for cash at risk of another financial black hole. But TfL have now suggested they have found a new sponsor.

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

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The cable car is an essential way for workers to get to the new town hall – now located in Newham

Emirates had spent £36m on a 10-year naming rights deal, advertising site The Drum reported, and any successor will get a complete overhaul of the cable car’s image – alongside the brand name appearing on London Underground map through thousands of locations. But without a new funder, advertising funding for the expensive transport link will be reduced.

Green Party assembly member Sian Berry, who also chairs the transport committee, told MyLondon she wouldn’t be sorry to see Emirates’ branding disappear from the cable car: “It was always extremely incongruous to have such a high carbon sponsor for part of our public transport network Ideally we would now fully integrate the cable car into the network including ticketing and pricing but if TfL is looking for a new sponsor then it must be the one that best matches London’s green ethos and ambitions.

In 2011, a press release for the town hall project stated that the cable car would have the capacity to “carry up to 2,500 people per hour” with “two million passengers expected per year”. But data from TfL shows that in 2019 the cable car had fewer than 1.3 million passengers. Since May 2021 this has increased to around 1.4 million passengers, but ridership figures are lower than expected when building the system.

Caroline Pidgeon, member of the Lib Dem AM and Transport Committee, added: “It is clear that TfL urgently needs to find a new sponsor for the cable car to cover its costs and more. Having your name on the map and the tube network should be very attractive to a sponsor and with the ridership picking up, it won’t be long before a new deal is struck.

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

“We will work with the new business partner to build on the cable car’s success and help maintain its position as one of the best things to do in London. We know our customers love the unique experience and spectacular views that the cable car, which is evidenced by its being highly rated on tourist attraction sites and by consistently high passenger numbers The relocation of the Town Hall to the Crystal adds another attraction to the area and we remain committed to building on the cable car’s success with a new partner later this year.

The cable car service – which costs £10 return – was designed to ‘boost the ongoing regeneration of east London’ and add a much needed river crossing in east London. TfL Commissioner Andy Byford told the London Assembly Transport Committee in March that TfL “needed” to find a replacement for Emirates and said he was confident this would be sorted out “in the coming month”.

He added: “We are very proud of the cable car. I understand we’ve had some interest, nothing that would get us into a contract at the moment, but there are a number of agencies or companies that are interested in sponsorship and we continue to have that dialogue.

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

He moved from Brussels to south London 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 the news and general political chaos.

If you have an untold story – whether it’s a housing nightmare, an unfair decision or a local scandal, reach out to us at [email protected] or contact Josiah at Twitter.

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