Delta Air Lines has retained its title as the world's most valuable airline brand, with Emirates in the top five internationally, consultancy Brand Finance said.
The brand value of Delta, whose headquarters are in Atlanta, the US, soared 27 per cent to $7.3 billion as the US airline introduced various new features over the year to retain customer loyalty during a period of low demand, Brand Finance's Airlines 50 2022 report said.
American Airlines, United Airlines, Emirates and Southwest Airlines rounded off the top five.
Savio D’Souza, valuation director at Brand Finance, said the pandemic had brought many unforeseen restrictions to the global travel industry which had had an adverse effect on airline brand values.
"As the world looks to a post-Covid future, airline brands, led by Delta, are beginning to taxi for take-off. Brand values have grown this year but have a long way to return to pre-pandemic levels," he said.
Global airlines are starting to rebound from a two-year slump in air travel during the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic as border restrictions ease around the world. But staff shortages at airlines and airports are causing severe disruption at some major centres with cancelled flights and long queues at security. Stepping up operations and rehiring staff fast enough to meet recovering demand is the latest challenge for the aviation industry.
Saudi Arabian Airlines, or Saudia as it is known, was ranked as the fastest growing airline brand in Middle East in the report. Its brand value rose 13 per cent to $572 million.
Saudi Arabia plans to increase the number of business and leisure tourists to about 100 million a year by 2030, and the number of religious visitors to 30 million by 2025.
The Saudia "brand is undergoing a heavy investment phase to capture this growth as part of the travel and tourism ecosystem being built almost from scratch in the country," Brand Finance said. "[It] is one of the key enablers of the logistics and tourism goals of Vision 2030."
Qatar Airways is the second-fastest growing brand in the Middle East at 12.5 per cent growth with a brand value of $2bn, as it looks to capitalise on the Fifa World Cup tournament being held in November and December, the report said.
"The Middle East region has seen its brand value recover over the last year as demand for travel has recovered," the report said.
Spanish airline Iberia as ranked the fastest-growing airline brand globally, with a 36 per cent increase in brand value to $2bn, marginally ahead of Singapore Airlines.
"Iberia has achieved its brand value growth by adapting quickly to the Covid-19 disruption, and the Spanish airline is also building a new strategic partnership with Spanish oil producer Cepsa to decarbonise air transport and deliver sustainable fuel for air travel," the report said.
Brand Finance also calculates the relative strength of brands through a scorecard evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity and business performance.
Canadian airline WestJet is the strongest airline brand in the world, with a Brand Strength Index of 84 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA-brand rating, Brand Finance said.
WestJet's brand value is up 22 per cent to $600m, the report showed.
"The Canadian airline has strengthened its brand identity across Canada with the addition of 24 new routes across the nation, leading to Canadian customers feeling an increased affinity with the brand," the report said.
"The brand is steadily recovering from the impact of Covid-19 and is now operating more than 500 departures per day for the first time since the pandemic nadir."