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Delta: The real strength
behind the brand — June 2019

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Delta Air Lines was the one to initiate the last stage of consolidation of the US airline industry — long-awaited since the Carter deregulation Act of 1978 — with its merger with Northwest in 2008. The United/Continental and American/US Airways mergers followed in 2010 and 2013 respectively and the industry really started to make profitable returns from 2015. But Delta had the head start, and in the last decade has beaten its legacy competitors on most financial measures: superior margins, returns on equity, debt reduction, and returns to shareholders. Can this continue?

Delta has built a very strong consumer brand. It is the sixth “most relevant” company in the US according to consultants W20 Group’s 2018 ranking — up by five places on the previous year and behind Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Apple (but above Boeing and FedEx, ranked 12th and 14th respectively). Brand Finance in its ranking of airline brand values put Delta in the top spot for 2019 at over $10bn, overtaking American for the first time.


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