Ranking the world's safest airlines

09 feb 2017

The accident rate for the world's airlines continues to decline and this trend has held steady for the better part of two decades. The safest airlines in the world have been announced by an industry ratings website and we take a look at the rankings. 

Australia-based Airlineratings.com, which calls itself the world's only safety and product rating website, has released its airline safety rankings for 2017. The top airline in terms of safety is a familiar brand with a 96-year history and an unprecedented record of zero fatal accidents in the entire jet age – Qantas Airways of Australia. The rankings involved 425 airlines around the world and utilized a set of criteria that took into account each airline's operations and safety history as well as government oversight and auditing practices. Airline fleet age; the implementation of new safety innovations; even financial performance were among the considerations. 

The rankings for both full service and budget carriers are based on a "star" ratings system that awards or subtracts a point (or star) based on the following conditions:

  • Is the airline IOSA certified?
  • Is the airline on the EU blacklist
  • Has the airline maintained a fatality-free record for the past 10 years?
  • Is the airline endorsed by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)?
  • Does the country where the airline is based meet all eight safety parameters set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the aviation body of the United Nations?
  • Has the airline's fleet been grounded by governing safety authorities due to safety concerns?
  • Does the airline operate Russian built aircraft?


Airlines that ranked best were awarded 7 total stars. The IOSA certification mentioned above refers to an auditing system established by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that assesses the health of an airline's operational management and control systems. According to Airlineratings.com, 148 of the 425 airlines were awarded all 7 stars but almost 50 airlines had three stars or less. 

Aside from Qantas, these full service airlines, listed in alphabetical order, ranked in the top 20:

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

The following alphabetical listing features the 10 safest low-cost airlines, according to Airlineratings.com:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Flybe
  • HK Express
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Jetstar Asia
  • Jetstar Australia
  • Thomas Cook
  • Virgin America
  • Vueling
  • WestJet