The Top 10 Airline Logos That Soar Above the Rest
Air travel has become integral to our lives, so airlines compete for our attention. One way they do this is through their logos, which can be seen everywhere, from their aircraft to their marketing materials. A well-designed airline logo is more than just a symbol; it represents the airline's brand, values and goals. No wonder airlines invest millions of dollars in developing and refining their logos to make them instantly recognisable and memorable.
This article looks closely at the ten best airline logos that stand out. From elegant to bold, these logos have become icons of the airline industry and capture the imagination of travellers around the world. We explore the history and design of each logo, as well as the unique story behind it. Whether you're a frequent flyer or an aviation enthusiast, join us on this journey through the airline branding world and discover the logos that stand out from the crowd.
Table of Contents
Top 10 Best Airline Logos
1 – American Airlines
American Airlines is a renowned airline with a long history dating back to 1930. Founded as American Airways, the company initially focused on providing airline services under that brand name. In 1934, however, the company underwent a significant change when it was acquired by E.L. Cord and renamed American Airlines.
Over the years, American Airlines has undergone numerous changes and emerged from the merger of more than 80 small airlines. Despite these changes, the airline has always strived to provide the highest quality of service to its customers, making it one of the most respected airlines in the world.
The American Airlines logo has played an essential role in the airline's success. The original logo, designed by Gudrich Murphy in 1931, consisted of two letters, “A” and an eagle symbol. The emblem remained unchanged for almost 40 years until Massimo Vignelli redesigned it in 1967.
In 2013, American Airlines redesigned its logo again, reflecting its commitment to progressiveness and a more modern company. The new logo, which combined the letter “A”, an eagle and a star, was presented in a 3D format that reflected current design concepts. The new colour scheme of white, blue and red symbolised the airline's commitment to its values and mission.
Despite management's enthusiasm and pride in the new design, the logo change was not without criticism. Many felt that the old logo was more individual and recognisable and questioned the need for change in difficult times for the company. However, the new logo proved to be a success. It helped American Airlines overcome financial difficulties and maintain its position as one of the world's best-known and most reliable airlines.
In summary, American Airlines' history is one of constant evolution and commitment to providing exceptional customer service. The airline's logo has played an essential role in its success, representing the company's values and aspirations. The recent redesign of American Airlines' logo reflects the airline's progressiveness and modern approach to business, which has contributed to its continued success and reputation as one of the most respected airlines in the world.
2 – British Airways
British Airways is a major airline formed in 1973 from the merger of four major airlines, of which BOAC and BEA were the best known. Today, the airline ranks 9th among all worldwide airlines and carries millions of passengers annually.
In the early years of British Airways, each airline tried to impose its own corporate identity, but they were unsuccessful. Therefore, the airline used simple blue and red lettering as its logo, designed by the firm Negus & Negus. However, the British Airways logo was changed in 1984 when the font was made more modern, and the serifs were removed. They also changed the colour of the font to black, and the red line under the lettering resembled a “bird” from BOAC's corporate design.
They changed the British Airways logo again in 1997. The font was changed to blue to reflect the colour of the flag and contained only capital letters. BOAC's “bird” was also included in the new logo, but in a rounder shape and the colours red and blue. This version of the logo is still used today.
The British Airways logo is interpreted by many as an expression of British conservatism, focusing on tradition, state power and the flag as a symbol. The use of the primary colours of the flag – red and blue – reinforces this perception. The blue colour is also associated with reliability, tranquillity and peace, which are essential attributes for an airline that wants to provide a comfortable and safe environment for its customers.
The airline's logo has remained unchanged despite the numerous mergers affecting British Airways. This is a testament to the consistent quality and relevance of the logo, which has become a recognisable symbol of the airline's brand and values. The logo continues to help British Airways maintain its position as a leading airline and a symbol of British excellence in the aviation industry.
3 – Lufthansa
The Lufthansa logo is a symbol of the company's rich history and its development over time. Today it is one of the most recognisable logos in the world, and the company itself is valued at about $4 billion.
Lufthansa's roots go back to 1917 when the Deutsche Luft-Reederei (DLR) was founded in Germany. But it was not until 1926 that they officially launched Deutsche Lufthansa. Before that, the company underwent various mergers and acquisitions, each contributing to the airline's history and heritage.
The history of the Lufthansa logo dates back to 1918, when Otto Firle, a well-known German architect and designer, created an emblem for DLR. It showed a crane in a circle, representing the company's focus on air transport. With the merger of Deutscher Aero Lloyd and Junkers Luftverkehr in 1926, they updated the logo to combine the crane of Deutscher Aero Lloyd with the blue and yellow colour scheme of Junkers Luftverkehr.
The author of the winning design for the new Lufthansa logo remains unknown, but it is known that Otto Firle headed the airline's advertising and marketing office at the time. Over the years, the Lufthansa logo has been changed several times, most recently on the occasion of the logo's 100th anniversary.
The crane in the Lufthansa logo became more elegant and refined, with a thinner bezel and a specially created shade of blue that symbolises the company's values of reliability, clarity and value. The yellow colour, which used to feature more prominently in the logo, has been relegated to the background as the company focuses on its premium brand image. However, it continues to be used in other design elements, such as boarding cards, name badges and flight schedules.
Overall, the Lufthansa logo is a symbol for the airline and a representation of the company's rich history and values. It has evolved to reflect the changing needs and desires of the airline and its customers.
4 – Emirates
Emirates Airlines is a relatively young airline that was founded in 1985 and quickly established itself as a reliable company with a high level of service. The airline's first flight took place on 25 October 1985, and since then, it has risen to become the fourth largest airline in the world, offering commercial flights to a wide range of destinations worldwide.
One of the distinctive features of Emirates Airlines is its unique attitude towards passengers with children. The airline offers a wide range of services and amenities to make travelling with children as easy and stress-free as possible. In addition, Emirates Airlines has a comprehensive route network that covers rare destinations such as New Zealand, Australia and many African countries.
In 2008, Emirates Airlines operated its first flight from Abu Dhabi to Moscow and has been flying regularly. The airline has also pioneered the aviation industry by introducing the first in-flight entertainment system accessible to all passengers. This feature has helped Emirates Airlines stand out from the competition and build a loyal customer base.
The Emirates Airlines logo reflects the conservatism of the Arabs. The logo was changed only once, in 1999. The current logo shows the company name in Arabic script and Latin letters. The font is white, and the background is filled with red.
The new version of the logo has a higher degree of squiggliness and smoothness, typical of Arabic people. This reinforces the brand's territorial ties and reflects the airline's Middle Eastern roots. The typeface has become more elegant, and the Latin letters more monumental, conveying a sense of strength and reliability.
The choice of red and white for the Emirates Airlines logo is because these colours are part of the national flag. These colours convey a sense of patriotism and high-quality service to the airline's customers. Due to the conservatism of Arab culture, it is unlikely that the logo will be changed soon, as the airline does not need to change its corporate identity.
5 – Air Canada
Air Canada, founded in 1937, is Canada's largest airline and one of the founding members of Star Alliance. The airline's long history and success are based on its commitment to providing first-class services and a wide range of routes in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Over the years, Air Canada's logo has changed several times, but the maple leaf symbol has always remained a central feature.
From 1937 to 1963, the Air Canada logo featured a red maple leaf on a white background, similar to the national flag, indicating the airline's leadership position in the Canadian aviation industry. In 1964, the colours were reversed, and the logo featured a white maple leaf on a red background. In 1993, the logo changed again, and the red maple leaf on a black background became the new symbol of Air Canada. This colour choice represented Canada's wild nature and reflected the indigenous people's heritage.
In 2004, Air Canada returned to its roots to restore confidence in the brand, which financial difficulties had weakened. The company reintroduced the red maple leaf on a white background to emphasise its heritage and longstanding commitment to serving Canadian customers.
In 2017, however, Air Canada returned to the red maple leaf on a black background, recognising that it needed to reflect the symbols of Canadian wildlife and its position as the country's largest airline. This move was a strategic decision to emphasise the connection between Air Canada and Canadian wildlife and has successfully attracted and retained customers.
Overall, the development of the Air Canada logo reflects the airline's history, values and customer needs. Air Canada has remained a leading player in the Canadian aviation industry by retaining the iconic maple leaf and adapting to changing times.
6 – Alaska Airlines
The history of Alaska Airlines dates back to 1932 when the company was still known as McGee Airways. Initially, the company operated flights from Anchorage to Bristol Bay. Over the years, the airline expanded and became known as Alaska Star Airlines in 1942. In 1944, however, they changed the company's name, and Alaska Airlines was born. This renaming has contributed to the airline's notoriety and increased its competitiveness in the industry.
The airline's first logo consisted of the airline's name written in gold. However, in the early 1980s, the company added an Alaskan Native or Inuit to the logo to represent the region where the airline was based. They retained this logo until the 1990s when Alaska Airlines decided to change the name and replace the Inuit with a mountain ridge. The new colour scheme included blue, black and white. However, the local population criticised the company for removing the face from its logo. Therefore, the airline was forced to return to the original Inuit logo.
In recent years, however, the airline has had to change its image again. The Inuit logo was left only on the aircraft's fuselage, while the company logo became minimalist, featuring black, angular letters on a white background. According to market researchers, this style reflects reliability and safety and promotes trust between the airline and its customers.
Today, Alaska Airlines is a leading US airline offering flights in the United States, Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico. It is known for its quality of service, punctuality and commitment to sustainability. The airline is also a member of the Oneworld alliance, which allows it to offer passengers more flight options and expand its reach worldwide. Despite the numerous renamings, the Inuit logo remains a famous symbol of Alaska Airlines' roots and ties to the Alaska region.
7 – AirAsia
AirAsia is a low-cost airline and the largest low-cost carrier in Asia. It was founded in 1993 but only began operations in 1996. The airline's logo has changed several times over the years but has always strived to reflect the brand's mission, vision and values.
Initially, the AirAsia logo featured a bird, but the management did not receive this well. Therefore, a significant rebranding was carried out in 2001, and the symbol was changed to a simple white lettering on a bright red background. Red is considered the most auspicious colour in Asian culture, symbolising happiness, love and prosperity. It is a popular colour for branding and marketing in many Asian countries.
The red colour in the AirAsia logo is a classic marketing technique to attract attention and convey a sense of energy and dynamism. The white lettering in the centre of the logo is easy to read and complements the bright red background, making the logo stand out from the competition. The round shape of the logo also has significance in Asian culture. The circle is considered a sacred shape representing the sun, unity, eternity and infinity. The circle also fits the airline's theme of moving forward, connecting people and providing reliable transport.
The logo redesign reflects the company's aspirations, mission and core values. It is simple, bold and memorable, making it easy to recognise and associate with the AirAsia brand. The logo has become synonymous with low-cost flights in Asia and has helped the airline stand out in a crowded market.
8 – Iberia
Iberia, the national airline of Spain, has a long history dating back to 1927. The Iberia logo has evolved, with each iteration reflecting the airline's values, heritage and commitment to customer service.
The original Iberia logo, introduced in 1927, was a simple design with the Spanish flag in the centre and two wings projecting outwards. They used this logo for over two decades until the airline underwent a significant rebranding in the late 1940s.
The new logo, introduced in the 1950s, featured a blue circle with the word “Iberia” in white lettering. They used this design for almost three decades until a new logo was introduced in the mid-1970s. The updated logo featured a yellow circle with a red and blue logo inside, symbolising the colours of the Spanish flag. The design was meant to convey a sense of progress and optimism.
In the 1990s, Iberia underwent another major rebranding, resulting in a new logo with a white circle and a blue and yellow logo inside. This modern and sophisticated design was intended to convey a sense of innovation and growth, reflecting the airline's expansion and modernisation efforts.
The current Iberia logo, introduced in 2011, is a modern interpretation of the Spanish flag. The logo features a red and yellow circle with a white logo inside, with the circle indicating the airline's global reach. The logo's colours represent the Spanish flag, an important symbol of the airline's heritage and identity.
Throughout the different versions of the Iberia logo, the airline has always emphasised its commitment to excellent customer service – a core value reflected in its design. Today, the Iberia logo symbolises the airline's history, culture and values and is a powerful visual representation of the Iberia brand.
9 – Ryanair
Ryanair, a low-cost airline, was founded in 1984 by Irish businessmen Tony and Chris Ryan and travel agent Liam Lonergan. The airline started with a single route between Waterford and Gatwick (London) but now offers over 1600 flights daily. In 2016, Ryanair became the most prominent European airline in passenger numbers, overtaking the German airline Lufthansa.
One of the key features that sets Ryanair apart from other airlines is its safety record. Since its inception, not one of the airline's aircraft has been involved in a fatal accident, which has earned it a reputation for safety and reliability.
Ryanair's logo is simple and elegant, featuring a yellow harp on a blue background. Blue is known for its symbolism of reliability, the strength of mind, national unity and nobility. The harp, a symbol of Ireland since the 13th century, also features prominently in the logo. But the harp is not the only feature of the logo. The illustration shows a flying man with wings pointing upwards, symbolising the freedom of flight, comfort and safety.
The Ryanair logo is meant to convey the message that the airline puts the safety and comfort of its passengers first. The logo's simplicity also reflects the airline's no-frills approach to air travel. The commitment to safety and the minimalist design has helped Ryanair create a strong brand identity that sets it apart from its competitors in the highly competitive airline industry.
10 – Qantas
Qantas is an iconic airline founded in 1920 and has a long and distinguished history. Initially, the company operated mail services connecting the last railway stations, and it wasn't until 1934 that Qantas carried its first passengers on a flight from Brisbane to Darwin. Today it is Australia's largest airline and one of the oldest airlines in the world.
Qantas handed over its aircraft during the Second World War to the Australian government. After the war, the company resumed operations and began using the iconic flying kangaroo logo that has become synonymous with the airline. The logo has changed five times throughout history, but the image has remained largely the same: the black company name and the white flying kangaroo in a red triangle.
The flying kangaroo is an important symbol for Australia, and its white colour represents Qantas' commitment to tradition and safety. White also represents caring for passengers and is one of the colours of the national flag. The triangle's red colour symbolises the airline's dynamic nature and drives for development and improvement, and the triangle represents movement, reliability and technological strength.
The Qantas logo has undergone some changes over the years, such as changes to the font style and the position of the flying kangaroo. Still, it has always been recognisable and iconic. The decision to keep the flying kangaroo at the top of the company name is a testament to the importance of the symbol and the recognition it has gained worldwide.
Qantas has a long and proud history, and the flying kangaroo is integral to that history. It represents the airline's commitment to tradition, safety and service and has helped establish Qantas as one of the world's best-known and most respected airlines.
In summary, the best airline logos presented in this article reflect each airline's history, brand identity, and commitment to its customers and the travel industry. The use of symbols, colours and shapes in these logos conveys a sense of reliability, safety and innovation while capturing the essence of each airline's heritage and values. A well-designed logo is not just a pretty picture, but a powerful tool that can leave a lasting impression on passengers, investors and the public.
Whether the simplicity of Air Canada's leaf, the sophistication of Emirates' calligraphy or the playfulness of AirAsia's typography, these logos are a testament to the creativity and vision of the airlines behind them. Ultimately, the best airline logos are iconic and memorable and inspire us to take to the skies and explore the world with confidence and style.