BA’s score was down 13 points on last year however, and both carriers had Emirates snapping at their heels, according to the assessment of consumer perceptions of airlines.
Emirates not only scored favourably across many YouGov metrics, but beat both BA and Virgin on various measures, most notably for the quality of its business and first class offerings, or equivalent.
However, while BA and Virgin Atlantic were level for general public impression, with Emirates one point behind, BA’s reputation among 18-34-year-olds was seven points ahead of Virgin and eight points ahead of Emirates.
BA also retained the highest overall brand health index (23.2), with Virgin achieving 21.9 and Emirates 20.1. The index is an aggregation of how each airline performed across six measures, including quality, value and reputation.
Singapore Airlines, meanwhile, bested Emirates to the airline passengers would most likely recommend to a friend or colleague, with Norwegian scoring well, in fourth.
“The past year has been tumultuous for the airline industry,” the report read, noting the collapse of Monarch and “reputational turbulence” affecting BA, United and Ryanair.
“Newer competitors – such as Norwegian – are threatening established airlines in both the long- and short-haul markets,” it continued.
“Others, including Jet2.com, are expanding their offering and increasing destinations, awareness, consideration, and purchase intent.
“Emirates consistently features highly across most metrics, and easyJet does well in the short-haul budget sector.”
Among the most significant risers was Jet2.com, which saw the greatest improvement in brand awareness, passenger consideration and purchase intent. It also ranked third for conversion of these three factors into bookings.
Jet2.com’s overall awareness score rose 14 points over the past four years, placing it closer than it has ever been to its biggest rivals, eastJet and Ryanair.
However, the report found while Jet2.com had made significant inroads in the north, its relatively recent arrival at Stansted, in March 2017, meant awareness of the brand in the south was significantly lower.
A more in-depth YouGov cast study found that with 7 million budget flyers in the south, largely “motivated by price”, there were opportunities for Jet2.com to make gains on its rivals.
It was still beaten comfortably by easyJet as the nation’s most popular airline for beach holidays.
Amelia Brophy, YouGov heads of brands, said: “EasyJet appears to have escaped the crises at budget rival Ryanair, and remains in a healthy position.
“We can expect increased competition from Jet2 on this front, as the carrier expands and continues to invest in marketing efforts.”