The Business Times

A great way to enjoy Formula 1 Singapore race

Nisha Ramchandani
Published Fri, Jul 4, 2014 · 10:00 PM
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TITLE sponsor Singapore Airlines (SIA) has teamed up with race promoter Singapore GP (SGP) to roll out Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix packages aimed at boosting traffic on the carrier during the race week, in addition to dangling special offers for its frequent-flyer members.

Being a premium carrier with a client base of affluent travellers, SIA is able to ride on the race to promote its network to the jet-setting F1 crowd - at a point when the airline is fending off competition from rivals and a challenging operating environment.

With SingTel bowing out as title sponsor of the Singapore race after a six-year run, SIA signed a two-year contract to take over this year, joining the ranks of other carriers such as Emirates, Qantas and Etihad, which have inked sponsorship deals with F1 in the past.

SIA and SGP have introduced F1 land packages, ranging from the standard to the luxurious; these combine an F1 ticket and hotel accommodation for those planning to travel on SIA or on the regional wing SilkAir.

On the high end is the Club Suite package starting at $11,137. This includes a three-night stay at a track-side hotel, a three-day F1 pass to a corporate hospitality suite, private airport transfers and tickets for exclusive F1 parties such as the one held at Amber Lounge.

Those with a need for speed can tag on optionals such as a half-hour spin in a Ferrari 430 Spider or Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, followed by cocktails at Marina Bay Sands' rooftop lounge Ku De Ta.

The more basic Walkabout package from $858 and the Grandstand package from $1,928 offer standard items such as F1 tickets and hotel accommodation, with options on seating and hotel location.

An SIA spokesman, responding to questions from The Business Times, said: "Overall, response from the various markets has been positive, and there's a strong demand for bookings around this period.

Being a global brand puts SIA in good stead to be tied to an iconic sport watched by millions across the globe. This is where SingTel had a tougher time exploiting the full benefits from its association with F1, given its largely Singapore-centric branding, said industry observers.

SIA, on the other hand, is able to offer deals to both locals and tourists.

Samir Dixit, the managing director for the Asia-Pacific of consultancy firm Brand Finance, said, however, that SIA would do better to bundle air tickets, flights and hotel stays in more comprehensive packages to make it easier for customers to place a booking, rather than do things piecemeal.

He pointed out that, unlike other firms involved as sponsors across the race venues throughout the whole F1 season, SIA is limited to that one race in Singapore each year. "They need to get as many people onboard (as possible)," he said.

For now, passengers need to contact the airline to get a quotation for a package that includes air fares.

Aside from the land packages, SIA has introduced special offers for its PPS Club and KrisFlyer members keen on just race tickets alone.

From now until Aug 15, a three-day pass for the Connaught Grandstand is going at nearly 30 per cent cheaper at $498, with additional perks such as 2,000 KrisFlyer miles thrown in. The three-day Pit Grandstand is around 15 per cent cheaper at $1,088, while the three-day Club Suite package is going at $6,152.50; the latter comes with sweeteners such as 15,000 KrisFlyer miles, F1 merchandise and a Priority Access pass.

Figures have not been officially released, but BT understands that the title sponsorship could cost SIA nearly $10 million a year.

Meanwhile, SGP's director of corporate sales Shamini Suppiah has said it expects more than 80 per cent of its corporate clients to return to the track in September.

This seventh edition of the race will be held from Sept 19 to 21.

The race promoter has introduced new corporate suite layouts, which allow for greater customisation options; it has also tweaked the food and beverage menus to improve its corporate hospitality offerings.

Each year, the world's only F1 night race is watched by an average of nearly 90 million viewers worldwide. The event also pulled in an average of 40,000 visitors during the race week between the years 2008 and 2012. This generated around $150 million in incremental tourism receipts a year on average for the nation.

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