The World’s 10 Most Valuable Airline Brands

In ranking the value of airline brands, Brand Finance factors in not only emotional connection but companies’ financial performance. The results might surprise you.

If you asked me to list the world’s most valuable airline brands, I’d mention, in no particular order, Singapore Airlines, Southwest, JetBlue, Lufthansa, and two or three others. They’d be the select few airlines which, fairly or not, seem to me to have gained the most tenacious hold on the hearts and minds of travelers.

According to Brand Finance’s “Airlines 30 2015” report, an “annual report on the world’s most valuable airline brands,” I’d be both right and wrong.

Unlike my own admittedly unscientific take on brand evaluation, Brand Finance takes a rigorous approach to the exercise, factoring in not only emotional connection but companies’ financial performance and other considerations as well.

Brand Finance calculates the values of the brands in its league tables using the ‘Royalty Relief approach’. This approach involves estimating the likely future sales that are attributable to a brand and calculating a royalty rate that would be charged for the use of the brand, i.e. what the owner would have to pay for the use of the brand — assuming it were not already owned.

Through that financially tinged lens, Brand Finance reckons the 10 most valuable airline brands, and their brand values, as follows:

  1. Emirates – $6,640 million
  2. Delta – $6,336 million
  3. United – $4,861 million
  4. Lufthansa – $4,099 million
  5. American – $3,649 million
  6. British Airways – $3,645 million
  7. Southwest – $3,466 million
  8. Air China – $2,953 million
  9. Singapore – $2,936 million
  10. China East – $2,914 million

Further down on the Brand Finance list, Alaska Airlines ranked 23rd, and JetBlue came in at 29th.

There’s no quibbling with the results. If you buy into the ranking’s methodology, you’re committed to the outcome as well. But any study that ranks Russia’s Aeroflot among the world’s top-25 brands certainly leaves me scratching my head.

Reader Reality Check

Head-scratcher, or do the results mesh neatly with your own take on airline brand values?

This article originally appeared on

By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.