Brand Finance has revealed the top 50 most valuable airline brands in the world, with Emirates topping the list once again. The carrier holds the titles of both the world’s strongest and most valuable airline brand – making it more popular than before. The top ten most valuable airlines in the world are; Emirates, Delta, American Airlines, British Airways, United Airlines, Air China, Southwest Airlines, Qatar Airways, China Eastern Airlines and Lufthansa.
The brand value of Emirates is of no surprise following their incredibly strong growth in 2015. Passenger numbers grew by nine percent, as the airline carried 51.3 million people. On average, 3,600 flights were operated a week - or over 186,000 flights for the year - travelling more than 824 million kilometres. The Emirates network expanded to 150 destinations, adding six new passenger destinations – Bali, Multan, Orlando, Mashhad, Bologna and Sabiha Gokcen in Istanbul. The carrier added 26 new aircraft to its fleet in the calendar year, compromising 15 A380s, 10 777-300ER and 1 Boeing 777 Freighter; rounding off the year with 246 aircraft in service.
Air China moved to fourth on the list, with a growth of 41 percent on 2015. Passenger traffic for Air China rose by more than eight percent to 89.8 million – revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) increased by eleven percent, and available seat kilometres (ASKs) were up 10.9 percent year on year. International capacity grew by more than 18 percent, and domestic capacity was up by 8.3 percent. Air China added new long and short haul routes to their network in 2015. From Beijing, the carrier added Melbourne, Johannesburg, Auckland and Mumbai; and the new short haul services are Astana, Fukuoka, Hakodate and Kuala Lumpur were added to their network.
German carrier Lufthansa saw their brand value decrease by 27 percent, which could be attributed to the fact their market share is being eroded by low cost carriers (LCCs) and the tragic Germanwings crash in 2015. Despite the significant drop in brand value, the carrier reportedly transported 107.7 million passengers for the calendar year; a new record of 1.6 percent. More than one million flights were carried out by Lufthansa, a 0.2 percent increase, and 17 new aircraft were taken into service for 2015.
Air Canada’s brand value grew by a staggering 63 percent – only two airlines had a higher growth percentage: American with 69 percent, and Qantas with 64 percent. The airline is benefitting from the cut prices in fuel, although its future plans are not dependant on prices staying the same. For the first eleven months of the calendar year, Air Canada reported an increase on traffic of ten percent. A letter of intent (LOI) with Bombardier has been entered into by Air Canada, for the acquisition of up for 75 CS300s. Deliveries of this aircraft are scheduled to begin in late 2019 and extended to 2022. The airline achieved their best financial results in their history for a second consecutive year, whilst RPMs increased by 8.6 percent, ASMs by 8.4 percent.
Colombian flag carrier Avianca’s brand value rose by 22 percent, taking them up to 37th place. The carrier increased the frequency on their Bogota – London Heathrow route from five times weekly to a daily service. Domestically, seats grew by 17 percent in the first seven months of 2015, with Colombian passenger numbers rising to 13 million. Avianca are attempting to match supply with demand and shake up their yields.
Three airlines made their debuts on the list – AeroMexico, Dragonair and Austrian Airlines, debuting at 40, 43 and 45 out of 50 respectively.
AeroMexico are seeking to grow their capacity in Europe by 28 percent for 2016, as European passenger numbers were up by 13 percent in 2015. This will be achieved through introducing a sixth daily service from Heathrow, increasing frequencies from Madrid – from a 9 to 11 weekly service, and launching an Amsterdam service in May.
Dragonair will be rebranded in 2016. The airline will be known as Cathay Dragon – as it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cathay Pacific – although the two will remain as separate airlines, operating under their own licences. There will be a new logo and livery which will appear on A330 for the first time in April. For 2015, the number of passengers combined for Cathay Pacific and Dragonair grew to more than 7 million.
Austrian Airlines recorded a 3 percent drop in passenger numbers to 10.8 million for 2015, due to weak business in Russia and the crisis in Eastern Ukraine. Austrian stated they were more focused on revenues than capacity; yet has plans to increase bilateral flights between Germany and Australia, as well as adding long haul services to Shanghai and Havana. Despite the drop in passenger numbers, Austrian are off to a strong start in 2016 – 617,000 passengers were carried in January, a 1.6 percent increase.