World Travel

Which is the world's safest airline?

AAP Images

Every other day we seem to hear reports of commercial airline failures — planes diverted to make emergency landings after in-flight dramas, aircraft grounded due to shonky equipment, near collisions and crew strikes over safety standards — and these are just to name a few from this week.

With all the uncertainty in the sky, which is the safest airline to trust with your travel arrangements? is an independent fact-gathering website run by a former airline safety analyst in the USA, and it gives consumers an idea of an airline's relative safety by analysing historical performance. But one can't exactly compile a top-ten list of the world's safest airlines — a number of factors come in to play when ranking a carrier's safety ranking.

What makes an airline safe anyway?

This particular safety register calculates an airline's 'fatal events' since 1970, based on the number of passengers who lose their lives relative to the total number of onboard passengers. This estimate is then weighted against the number of flights a particular airline operates — for example, if a carrier has only operated one flight since the 70s, and all aboard met their maker, that company would have a much higher score than an airline operating a hundred flights a day and has lost a handful of passengers over the last four decades.

So who's the safest down under?

Based on fatality rates alone (not including your in-flight bumps, bruises and busted doors), here is a list of popular carriers that fly in and out of Australasia. Remember — the lower an airline's ranking, the safer its track record:

  • China Airlines — 7.16
  • Air India — 4.89
  • Thai Airways — 1.60
  • Singapore Airlines — 1.50
  • Cathay Pacific — 1.45
  • Air New Zealand — 0.74
  • United — 0.31
    and, still the safest airline with a total of zero fatalities ...
  • Qantas — 0.00

So despite the bad press of late, the kangaroo in the sky is your best bet on arriving alive. But according to the Australian and International Pilots Association's recent government address, carriers across the globe are 'forcing airlines to adopt less safe practices' due to financial pressures.

Are we better off grounded?

In short, no. According to Wikipedia, approximately 744 people were killed globally by commercial airline accidents in 2007. That is roughly equivalent to the number of people who died after being struck by lightning the very same year. So your chances of touching down in one piece are incredibly good, considering the fact that over ten million commercial flights took off last year alone. By comparison, roughly 3,000 people are killed globally every DAY in automobile accidents. So bear down, brave it, but be sure to buckle up.

Is airline safety keeping you on the ground? Any in-flight fiasco preventing you from flying a particular airline ever again?

User comments
qantas is by far the safest and utmost respected airline in the world go kangaroo your the best
The claim that no one has ever died flying qantas is wrong. Over seventy have been kill. You can't claim on one hand to be the second oldest airline in the world and then conveniently forget your own history.
QANTAS or Virgin Blue (now Virgin Australia). QANTAS may have had it's bumps but although several decades old, not one death is an extraordinary record. I feel completely safe. The asian airlines tend to do well with Singapore and Malaysia and Air NZ is another trusted carrier. I would never fly an American airline such as United, Delta or American Airlines. The country and it's people are a popular target.
Qantas have a great safety record and great planes but appauling customer service. The stewards really need re-training to compete with the service provided on other airlines. Same goes for British Airways. And as Qantas and BA co share then you never know which one you are going to get. Stay away from both
To the first comment on this, you were probably drunk and disorderly thats why she had the sh**ts
i have been on a lot of flights in my time, mostly QANTAS as well. I have always found the planes to be clean and comfortable and the staff polite and professional. The amount of times having to wait because of constant delays however doesnt sit well with me. But overall i dont mind the delays as long as i get to the other end safely and with QANTAS i know i will.
the only airline that could lose baggage twice in two weeks and we never even took off !!! deplaned due to mechanical problems on both occasions, was asked to collect baggage, and baggage. my company could not believe my excuse for missing onward connections until I submitted a signed report from BA.
Emirates, Emirates, Emirates, every time! Friendlyness, efficiency, & schedule of flights to UK they top the lot. AND when we couldn't get to Kingsford Smith , because of a bush fire north of Sidney, we were accommodated on the next day's flight without so much as a raised eyebrow. .
I don't know how you would call an exploding engine "BAD PRESS". I have travelled all around the world and service wise, I would say that QANTAS is the worst international airline I have had the displeasure to fly with. The attitude of the flight attendants is terrible, On a particular flight from Sydney to Singapore ,I asked the attendant if she would mind getting me a beer, after huffing off down the aisle, she came back and slammed the beer down on the table in front of me and stormed off. And that was buisness class. I for one avoid QANTAS like the plague now days and my buisness partners do the same. And I'm an Aussie.
as far safety is concern ........Qantas is the best .......however due to mechnincal faults and press leases made a big issue .............overall qantas is the best ....don't compare service with safety .........polish up customer service .... it will be undisputed sky king .............Q for Quality