Airline safety is one of those things you hope you’ll never have to worry about when you travel.
But even the most nervous of fliers should take heart when flying Australia’s flag carrier, Qantas — as it has just been rated the safest airline in the world for what is effectively the seventh year in a row.
The safety table was created by AirlineRatings.com, an airline safety and product review website, which monitors 405 airlines around the world and produces an annual list of the ones deemed safest.
Qantas held the title of the world’s safest airline from 2014 to 2017. In 2018, AirlineRatings could find no clear “winner” so awarded the accolade jointly to the top 20 airlines, listing them alphabetically.
But this year, Qantas has returned to the top.
The rankings take into account factors including audits from aviation bodies and governments, crash and serious incident records, fleet age, financial position, pilot training and culture.
They did not look at minor incidents, as “all airlines have incidents every day,” says Geoffrey Thomas, editor-in-chief of the Australian-based website.
“It is the way the flight crew handles incidents that determines a good airline from an unsafe one,” he tells CNN Travel.
“Qantas has been the lead airline in virtually every major operational safety advancement over the past 60 years and has not had a fatality in the pure-jet era.”
Air New Zealand comes in second, while Taiwan’s EVA Air is third. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways — a new entry — ranks fourth.
The rest of the top 10 is made up of Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Alaska Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Australia.
Ranked 10-20 are Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, TAP Air Portugal, SAS, Royal Jordanian, Swiss, Finnair, Lufthansa, Aer Lingus and KLM.
Notable exceptions from the list are British Airways, ANA, American Airlines and United, all of which made the top 20 last year. Japan Airlines and Delta also failed to make the cut — both have been on previous lists.
Thomas says British Airways slid down the rankings due to a “combination of fleet age [average 13.8 years] and the number of incidents… which were not life-threatening but there were a lot of them compared to other airlines of similar size.”
Regarding the others, he points to incidents of allegedly intoxicated pilots on United, American, Delta, JAL and ANA.
Thomas praises Qantas’s innovations, including the “extraordinary success of its Perth to London Boeing 787 nonstop service” and its recent London-Sydney and New York-Sydney test flights.
The airline has ordered 12 Airbus A350s to operate nonstop between the cities.
He also notes there was “not much between the top 10” airlines, but that “wider gaps appear from 10 to 20.”
The website has also produced a list of the world’s safest budget airlines, although these are ranked equally, and so listed alphabetically. They are Air Arabia, Flybe, Frontier, HK Express, IndiGo, Jetblue, Volaris, Vueling, Westjet and Wizz Air.
2: Air New Zealand
3: EVA Air
4: Etihad Airways
5: Qatar Airways
6: Singapore Airlines
8: Alaska Airlines
9: Cathay Pacific
10: Virgin Australia
11: Hawaiian Airlines
12: Virgin Atlantic
13: TAP Air Portugal
15: Royal Jordanian
19: Aer Lingus