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Delta flies high taking title of world’s most valuable airline

01 April 2019
This article is more than 2 years old.

· Delta steals pole position from American Airlines, brand value up 16% to US$10.1 billion

· Emirates fall to fifth place, giving top four slots to US airlines

· Brand values of all three top ten Chinese airlines strengthen, assisted by late drop in fuel cost

· Budget airlines, Wizz Air, Easyjet, Jetblue Airways, prosper whilst Norwegian Airline falters- brand value drops 7% to US$0.9billion

· Russian carrier Aeroflot upgraded to exclusive AAA+ brand strength rating

View the full Brand Finance Airlines 50 2019 ranking here

Delta is now the world’s most valuable airline brand, as its brand value grew 16% over the past year to US$10.1 billion, according to the latest report by Brand Finance, the world’s leading independent brand valuation consultancy.

Far East brands hold first class values

New routes, new airports, and new ventures are set to strengthen the performance of airline brands taking advantage of the ever-growing demand for travel in Asia-Pacific. Notable performances from the Far East come from: China Southern (up 10% to US$4.5 billion), China Eastern (up 11% to US$4.2 billion), Air China up 20% to US$ 4.1 billion, Xiamen Airlines which has soared 70% to US$1.1 billion) Air Asia (up 35% to US$1.3 billion) and Korean Air (up 21% to US$1.8 billion). New entrant Spring Airlines, whose brand value of US$0.6 billion puts it in 50th position, is China’s largest low-cost airline.

Boeing 737 MAX 8 impact

Mergers are part of the success story behind this year’s top four American airlines and this healthy growth is likely to continue. Star performer Delta, (brand value up 16% to US$10.1 billion) is currently considering buying Alitalia which will give it access, for the first time, to long-haul flights in Europe. Whilst Southwest Airlines is the fastest growing brand in the top four, (up 24% at US$6.9 billion) the recent grounding of its 737 MAX 8 aircraft following the Ethiopian Airlines crash, could affect it and American Airlines’ returns. Delta however does not use the MAX and may capitalise from the groundings.

EK slips down as BA retains top 10 spot

Whilst leading Middle Eastern airline Emirates (up 17% to US$ 6.26 billion) slips to fifth position in this year’s top ten, it continues to win praise from its customers for its variety of long-haul routes, world class lounges, superb on-board service and punctuality. British Airways retains 8th position (up 20% to US$4.1 billion) and wins plaudits from customers for its airport lounges, flight schedule flexibility, and loyalty reward schemes. Lufthansa, currently in 10th place (brand value up 8% to US$3.14), is looking to extend its share in the lucrative low-cost airline sector. Industry insiders suggest it is interested in buying Norwegian Airlines (down 7% US$0.9billion) or Wizz Air (up 42% to US$ 0.7 billion). Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air is said to have the lowest operating cost in Europe.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“Growth in the airline market is dependent on a brand fully grasping and meeting the demands of its customer, something which, with the rise of social media, is constantly evolving. Whilst pricing, routes and service remain central to repeat business, airlines which capitalise on USPs, the huge growth potential in emerging markets and are simultaneously sympathetic to sustainability by investing in more fuel-efficient planes, are the ones most likely to prosper.”

Aeroflot flies high as world’s strongest airlines brand
Aside from calculating overall brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity, and business performance. Along with the level of revenues, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value.

According to this criteria, Russia’s flagship carrier Aeroflot is the strongest brand in the Brand Finance Airlines 50 2019 ranking, with a Brand rating of AAA+ up from AAA last year. The Moscow headquartered brand was also named Best Airline in Eastern Europe for the seventh time at the 2018 Skytrax World Airline Awards.

Aeroflot’s brand value growth of 6% to US$1.5 billion can be attributed to the expansion and addition of new routes to Dubai World Central, Phuket, Marseille and Palma Mallorca. The group has an ambitious aim of carrying 100 million passengers by 2023, marking the 100th anniversary of the group and Aeroflot brand. Crucial steps towards achieving this goal will be for the brand to continue its focus on investment in sustaining brand strength and therefore upholding its AAA+ rating through to the following year.


Note to Editors
Every year, leading brand valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance values the world’s biggest airline brands. The 50 most valuable airline brands in the world are included in the Brand Finance Airlines 50 2019 ranking.

Brand value is understood as the net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market. Brand strength is the efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures relative to its competitors.

Additional insights, more information about the methodology, as well as definitions of key terms are available in the Brand Finance Airlines 50 2019 ranking.

Brand Finance helped craft the internationally recognized standard on Brand Valuation – ISO 10668, and the recently approved standard on Brand Evaluation – ISO 20671. Brand Finance is a chartered accountancy firm regulated by ICAEW and also the first brand valuation consultancy to join the International Valuation Standards Committee (IVSC).

The methodology used to produce the annual Brand Finance rankings of the most valuable and strongest brands across all sectors and countries has been certified with the Marketing Accountability Standards Board’s (MASB) Marketing Metric Audit Protocol (MMAP).

Data compiled for the Brand Finance league tables and reports are provided for the benefit of the media and are not to be used for any commercial or technical purpose without written permission from Brand Finance.

Media Contacts

Konrad Jagodzinski
Konrad Jagodzinski
Communications Director
Brand Finance
Florina Cormack-Loyd
Florina Cormack-Loyd
Senior Communications Manager
Brand Finance

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