Budget airlines tend to get a bad rap, but they're not all the same, according to aviation analysts who've ranked the 10 safest low-cost carriers in the world.
Jetstar Australia is the only Australian airline to make the list, which also includes Aer Lingus, Flybe, Frontier, HK Express, Jetblue, Thomas Cook, Virgin America, Vueling and Westjet.
Airlineratings.com, which compiled the new list, says unlike some low cost carriers, these airlines have all passed the stringent International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit and have excellent safety records.
WORLD'S TOP 20 SAFEST AIRLINES
The 20 safest airlines are (in alphabetical order): Air New Zealand, Alaska Airlines, All Nippon Airways, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Finnair, Hawaiian Airlines, Japan Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, Qantas, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Scandinavian Airline System, Singapore Airlines, Swiss, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.
AirlineRatings.com editor-in-chief says while Qantas has long been considered the world's safest airline, others deserve recognition.
"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 jet era," Thomas says.
"But Qantas is not alone. Long established airlines such as Hawaiian and Finnair have perfect records in the jet era."
THE WORLD'S WORST AIRLINES
The site also revealed its list of the world's lowest ranked airlines of the 409 it monitors. Those with the worst safety rating include North Korean Air Koryo, Indonesia's Trigana Air Service and four Nepalese airlines - Buddha Air, Nepal Airlines, Tara Air and Yeti Airlines.
CHOOSING A SAFE AIRLINE
Factors considered in compiling the Airlineratings.com list include audits from aviation's governing bodies and lead associations; government audits; airlines' crash and serious incident record and the age of their fleets.
"Certainly, air travel is safer today than at any time in history but passengers still need to know which are the best of the best," Thomas says.
"Our top 20 safest airlines are always at the forefront of safety innovation, operational excellence and the launching of new more advanced aircraft like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787."
Thomas says the site only looks at serious incidents in making its determinations.
"All airlines have incidents every day and many are aircraft manufacture issues not airline operational problems. And it is the way the flight crew handles incidents that determines a good airline from an unsafe one. So just lumping all incidents together is very misleading," he says.
"An excellent example of that was the Qantas A380 incident in 2010 when a Rolls Royce engine shattered after take-off from Singapore. The fault was entirely with a fault in manufacture but the pilot skills of the Qantas crew saved the plane according to Australia's crash investigators."
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