The world’s top 25 most valuable airport brands could lose up to US$1.7 billion worth of brand value as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Brand Finance’s analysis shows that the airport sector is a heavily impacted industry globally and could face a potential 20% loss in brand value.
Looking beyond the airport sector, the value of the 500 most valuable brands in the world, ranked in the Brand Finance Global 500 2020 league table, could fall by an estimated US$1 trillion as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Brand Finance has assessed the impact of COVID-19 based on the effect of the outbreak on enterprise value, compared to what it was on 1st January 2020. The likely impact on brand value was estimated for each sector. The industries have been classified into three categories – limited impact (minimal brand value loss or potential brand value growth), moderate impact (up to 10% brand value loss), and heavy impact (up to 20% brand value loss) – based on the level of brand value loss observed for each sector in the first quarter of 2020.
The COVID-19 crisis presents a dangerous threat to airports around the world, which stand to lose 20% of overall brand value and could struggle to cope with ever-decreasing demand in the face of travel restrictions as global aviation reaches a virtual standstill. With the future effectively out of their hands, airports will have to rely on the strength of their brands to successfully bounce back once the world returns to some form of normality.
Savio D'Souza, Valuation Director, Brand Finance
Heathrow Airport has retained the title of the world’s most valuable airport brand despite recording a 7% brand value decrease to US$853 million. The 7th busiest airport in the world, and Europe’s busiest, posted flat retail revenue per passenger last year and show signs of slowing long term growth rate.
With plans for the controversial third runway hitting a major obstacle in February this year with the Court of Appeal ruling it illegal due to lack of consideration of the government’s climate commitments, Heathrow has a monumental task ahead to ensure plans are kept alive while also fitting the UK’s climate policy.
Heathrow reported a damaging 85% drop in revenue in Q2 2020, with cargo numbers dropping 30% and passenger numbers down a staggering 96%.
Bangkok Airport is the fastest growing brand in this year’s ranking, following a 24% brand value increase to US$260 million, simultaneously jumping 4 spots from 16th to 12th.
Welcoming over 67 million passengers in 2018, Bangkok Airport is the 6th busiest air gateway in Asia. With tourism booming across the nation and in South East Asia, Airports of Thailand has recently approved a second terminal at Suvarnabhumi, as well as further terminal developments and another runway. This US$1.4 billion investment will approximately triple the capacity of the airport.
In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance also evaluates the relative strength of brands, based on factors such as marketing investment, customer familiarity, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation. According to these criteria, Hong Kong International Airport (down 3% to US$321 million) is the world’s strongest airport brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 88.6 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA brand strength rating.
Hong Kong International Airport is committed to its Master Plan 2030, focusing on expansion and development of the airport to ultimately reach its goal of handling an additional 30 million passengers per year. The brand has celebrated better airport utilisation and punctuality rates – both of which are key drivers behind its 2.3 BSI point increase.
The civil unrest that has swept Hong Kong has not only resulted in a sharp decline in travel demand but has directly affected the airport with protestors occupying departure and arrivals halls. This, paired with the turmoil surrounding coronavirus, has impacted both airlines and the airport alike, with capacity significantly cut. As with all airport brands in the ranking, recovery for Hong Kong International depends on how long the COVID-19 crisis engulfs the world, but it seems likely the sector is in for the long haul.