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Dubai’s flagship airline Emirates will sponsor Britain’s first urban cable car spanning London’s river Thames, saying it hoped the new addition to the city’s skyline would be ready for next year’s Olympics.
The GBP£60 million (USD$92.3 million) project, due to be completed next summer, will link the 02 arena, which hosts concerts and sporting events on the south bank, with the ExCeL conference venue on the north side.
Both arenas will host events during the 2012 Games.
Emirates will sponsor the cable car river crossing in a 10-year-deal worth GBP£36 million.
The airline has used British sport to boost its brand since 2004 when it announced a shirt sponsorship deal with Premier League football club Arsenal and naming rights on its new ground in north London.
Transport for London will look to meet the funding shortfall by applying for a grant from the European regional development fund, secondary sponsors, retail opportunities at the two stations, and income from fares.
It is hoped the cable car, to be called Emirates Air Line, will act as a catalyst for the further regeneration of east London, where the Games will be held between July 27 and August 12.
“This multi-million pound deal is tremendous news for London, helping us to deliver a new addition to the city’s skyline,” Mayor of London Boris Johnson said in a statement.
“The Emirates Air Line will be an exciting and innovative mode of transport easing travel for thousands and offering spectacular bird’s eye vistas of our majestic Thames.”
Construction began in July, but Transport for London was cautious on whether it would be ready in time for the Olympics, saying it had not been part of the transport plan for the Games.
“It would be a nice bonus if it is (ready for the Olympics),” a spokesman for Emirates said.
The cable car will be able to carry up to 2,500 people per hour in each direction during the five-minute journey, and is expected to carry two million passengers a year.
The stretch of Thames is currently served by road tunnels, but no bridges.
Tim Clark, president of Emirates, said the cable car crossing “will take off as an iconic landmark for London”.