The Safest Airlines in the World for 2016

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Every year, AirlineRatings.com, the world’s only safety- and product-rating website, announces its safest airlines and low-cost carriers from the 407 total airlines it monitors. For the past two years, Qantas came out on top for the site’s world’s safest airline award, and this year was no different.

In today’s announcement, AirlineRatings.com awarded the Australian carrier as the world’s safest airline for the third year in a row. As the world’s oldest continuously operating airline, it’s now accepted as the industry’s most experienced carrier, as it has amassed an extraordinary record including no fatalities in the jet era. It’s been a leader in 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. In addition to boasting a phenomenal safety rating, the airline offers a great business-class product for getting to, from and around Australia — and its food is pretty great as well.

Cathay Pacific has long had one of the best business-class cabins around.
Cathay Pacific has long had one of the best business-class cabins around and is one of the safest carriers in the sky.

Rounding out the site’s top-20 list of the world’s safest airlines in alphabetical order are:

Air New Zealand
Alaska Airlines
All Nippon Airlines
American Airlines
Cathay Pacific Airways
Emirates
Etihad Airways
EVA Air
Finnair
Hawaiian Airlines
Japan Airlines
KLM
Lufthansa
Scandinavian Airline System
Singapore Airlines
Swiss
United Airlines
Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Australia

As for how the site comes up with these ratings, it uses a seven-star system that considers airlines’ efforts toward safety innovation, new planes, audits from both government and aviation-governing bodies and associations and airlines’ operational histories and incident/fatality records. An airline that has suffered a crash involving fatalities is given a one-star deduction for 10 years from the date of the incident.

Of the 407 airlines surveyed by the site, 148 have the top seven-star safety ranking, but almost 50 have three stars or less. There are 10 airlines with only one star, and all of them are from Indonesia, Nepal and Surinam.

Aer Lingus will start flying in three new US cities next year. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Aer Lingus’ record earned it a spot as one of the ten safest low-cost carriers. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

The site also released its top-10 safest low-cost carriers for 2016. According to the rankings, unlike most low-cost carriers, these have all passed the stringent IOSA and have an excellent safety record. Here they are in alphabetical order:

Aer Lingus
Flybe
HK Express
JetBlue
Jetstar Australia
Thomas Cook
TUIfly
Virgin America
Volaris
WestJet

The rankings for 2016 come at a sensitive time for the aviation industry. We saw several high-profile accidents in 2015, such as the Metrojet explosion in Egypt that killed all 224 passengers and crew on board and the Germanwings crash in the southern French Alps that killed 156 passengers and crew.

However, there is some good news. According to Aviation-Safety.net data, the 16 accidents in 2015 with a total of 560 fatalities were below the 10-year average of 31 accidents and 714 fatalities. Last year was also an improvement over 2014, when there were 21 fatal accidents with 986 fatalities. Airlines also carried a record 3.6 billion passengers on 34 million flights in 2015, not to mention US airlines boasted record profits. For comparison, 50 years ago there were a staggering 87 crashes killing 1,597 when airlines carried only 141 million passengers — 5% of today’s number.

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