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Is Delta SkyMiles The Most Valuable Loyalty Program in the World?

Is Delta SkyMiles The Most Valuable Loyalty Program in the World?
Joe Cortez

Could Delta SkyMiles hold the most corporate value than any other frequent flyer program? 

From humble beginnings, frequent flyer programs have grown to drive passenger loyalty, gather customer data, and become profit centers of their own thanks to co-branded credit cards. But, is Delta Air Lines’ SkyMiles the most valuable of them all? A recent report by On Point Loyalty suggests that the Atlanta-based carrier’s loyalty business could be valued at over $25 billion.

How Delta holds the most value among frequent flyer programs

Read any thread in the Delta SkyMiles FlyerTalk forum and you will read stories about bad passengers, unhelpful employees and successes (or lack thereof) on upgrades. But what you won’t find is a lot of cheap awards using SkyMiles.

So how did Delta get a valuation of over $25 billion? The report methodology doesn’t actually consider the individual value of miles, but the value that the program brings to the airline. The methodology is based on four different factors:

  • Airline profile, including revenue passenger kilometers, current and future fleet, home market dominance and financial health.
  • Loyalty program assessment, such as credit card options, earning miles through flying and redemption options.
  • Home-country factors, like GDP growth production, political stability and GDP per capita.
  • Develop multiples based on airline financial performance, which can adjust the valuation based primarily on fiscal factors.

“Airline loyalty programs are formidable marketing tools,” the report states. “And with ongoing enhancements, such as the move to value-based accrual and smarter elite qualification structures, program operators are delivering stronger program economics.”

It’s no secret that Delta relies on its frequent flyer program to drive revenue. When the carrier renewed their credit card agreement with American Express, they announced the partnership drove $3.8 billion in value in 2018, with a target goal of adding $7 billion in value by 2023.

American carriers hold the highest frequent flyer program value

Delta wasn’t the only U.S. airline to hold incredible value in their frequent flyer program. Joining it in the $20 billion estimated valuation club were American Airlines AAdvantage, valued at $23.4 billion, and United Airlines MileagePlus at $20.2 billion. Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards ranked fourth, with a considerably low value of $8 billion.

Among the international carriers, Lufthansa Group led the way in loyalty. Miles & More was valued at $7.4 billion, an increase of $2 billion over the last three years. Flying Blue, the combined loyalty program of Air France-KLM, came in at a value of $6.7 billion, while Air Canada’s re-acquisition of Aeroplan from Aimia gives its loyalty scheme a total overall value of around $6.3 billion.

View Comments (5)

5 Comments

  1. fotographer

    February 13, 2020 at 7:43 am

    sure.. and try finding an award ticket at a decent redemption

  2. sunil

    February 13, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Ditch the airline credit cards and stick to cash back !

  3. Global321

    February 16, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    Is Delta SkyMiles The Most Valuable Loyalty Program in the World?

    NO.

    Next question.

  4. pulokk1

    February 18, 2020 at 4:19 am

    Not sure the point of this article. Do I care about the “market value” of an airline’s loyalty program? Not one whit. I do care about being able to find reasonably priced award flights including business availability transatlantic.

  5. hyho61

    February 18, 2020 at 6:34 am

    You must be kidding right. Hello – It is called Skypesos DL is probably the LEAST valuable FF program in US on par with Spirit airlines.

    UA is still the best due to its affiliation with Star alliance which is the largest alliance in the world. However lately UA is following DL’s trend. Southwest overall is the best domestic FF program.

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