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The World’s Safest Major and Low-Cost Airlines for 2015

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As frequent travelers yourselves, I hope you’ll be relieved to know that aviation website AirlineRatings.com has just released its annual list of the 10 safest major airlines in the world, and for the first time, have also determined the 10 safest low-cost airlines in the world. For the second year in a row, Australian carrier Qantas has nabbed number one amongst the majors.

In alphabetical order, the rest of the safest major airlines are Air New Zealand, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Finnair, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines. The 10 safest low-cost airlines (again, in alphabetical order), are Ireland’s Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines, Icelandair, Jetblue, Jetstar, South Africa’s Kulula, the UK’s Monarch Airlines and Thomas Cook, Germany’s TUIfly, and Canada’s WestJet.

For the second year in a row, Qantas has been named the world's safest airline by aviation website AirlineRatings.com.
For the second year in a row, Qantas has been named the world’s safest airline by aviation website AirlineRatings.com.

In choosing Qantas, AirlineRatings.com editors considered the 94-year-old Aussie carrier’s record of almost 30 firsts in safety and operations—including the development of the Future Air Navigation System, the use of the Flight Data Recorder to monitor plane and crew performance, automatic landings using Global Navigation Satellite System, and the use of Required Navigation Performance to aid precision approaches in mountainous areas during cloudy weather.

AirlineRatings.com uses a seven-star rating system that considers airlines’ efforts made towards safety innovation, new planes, audits from both government and aviation-governing bodies and associations (such as the strict International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit), and airlines’ operational histories and incident/fatality records. An airline that has suffered a crash involving fatalities is given one star deduction for 10 years from the date of the incident.

Overall, the site monitors 449 airlines, and has given 149 of them the top seven-star safety ranking, as well as three stars or less to about 50 carriers. Four airlines only achieved one star for safety—Nepalese carriers Tara Air and Nepal Airlines, Kazakhstan’s Scat Airlines, and Afghanistan’s Kam Air—all of which made this list of airlines banned from flying within the European Union.

The site’s double list comes at a very sensitive time for fliers and the aviation industry as a whole, as 2014 was a terrible year for flight fatalities, including the recent tragedy for AirAsia, a carrier which previously had a near-flawless safety record. According to AirlineRatings.com, there were 21 fatal accidents with 986 fatalities in 2014; those 21 accidents represent a record low of one per every 1.3 million flights, while fatalities were higher than the 10-year average. Last year’s two disasters for Malaysia Airlines alone claimed 537 lives.

However, it bears mentioning that per statistics compiled by the Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives (BAAA), the year saw only 111 crashes, the lowest number since 1927—when there were markedly fewer aircraft in the skies than there are today. According to a report by AirlineRatings.com, the world’s airlines carried 3.3 billion passengers on 27 million flights in 2014, an all-time record.

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