TUESDAY 17 JUL 2018 2:43 PM


During an age in which air travel serves as a vital part of the global economy and social progress, a country’s flag bearer airline can serve as a symbol of national pride for its people. In an effort to understand the effectiveness of airline marketing and evaluate the impact the reputation of an airline or its country has on its popularity among flyers, Graphic Springs, a logo design agency, conducted a study to compare the world’s top airlines.

When choosing an airline, a flyer must trust a company enough to deliver him/her safely to his/her destination. While trust can play an important role in everyday life, when making important decisions, it should not be given away freely. Because reputation is built on experience, solely airlines that are both recognisable and reputable can gain the trust of their flyers. By conducting this study and revealing its findings online, Graphic Springs proved the significance of brand reputation within the airline industry.

Etihad Airways, the second-largest airline in the United Arab Emirates, prevails as the most desired airline in the world. With 98% of participants wanting to fly in it because of brand reputation alone, Etihad continues to uphold its standing as the world’s leading airline. Founded in 2003, Etihad is one of the youngest and yet fastest growing airlines in the world.

Coming in second and third, Qatar Airways and Deutsche Lufthansa followed with 96% and 95% of respondents wanting to fly with them. While industry giants Lufthansa and British Airways were found to be the two most recognisable airlines in the world, when concerning branding and desirability, Gulf-based airlines stand out amongst their competitors with Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Emirates dominating desirability rankings.

Although the study focused on branding and marketing, findings showed that factors such as country of origin and track record also had an impact on an airline’s desirability.

Coming in as next-to-last, Malaysia Airlines is one of the least desirable airlines in the world. After the tragic losses of flights MH370 and MH17 in 2014, Malaysia airlines suffered critical damage to its brand’s reputation. While it’s true that the brand was struggling prior to 2014, the disappearance of MH370 and the destruction of MH17 caused the brand to lose the key quality passengers universally seek in an airline: safety. Malaysia Airlines has since gone to great lengths to transform its brand to position safety at the front of its identity; however, data proves that the airline is yet to recover from the damage done to its reputation.

Following Malaysian Airlines and concluding the list, Air Astana, Kazakhstan’s flag carrier, came last as the least desired airline in the world. Established in 2002, Air Astana joins the industry as a relatively new airline from a relatively new country. While the airline remains unknown to most Americans and Europeans, Air Astana has been named the best airline in India and central Asia by consumer aviation website Skytrax and ranked as the world’s 12th best airline by Business Insider. However, in an industry in which reputation or lack thereof can act as a key determinant to whether a passenger chooses to fly on a certain airline or not, Air Astana must build a more memorable and widespread identity in order to succeed.

The research, part of a larger study on corporate logos and brand penetration, included 24,000 participants from 68 countries aged 17-78 who had traveled by plane in the past 24 months. Having identified the 92 most important airlines in passenger transport, Graphic Springs released an image-based online poll and evaluated participants by asking them six questions that concerned the brand’s reputation after showing them an airline’s logo. 

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