An annual survey of the world’s biggest airlines has seen Qantas named the world’s safest for the third year running.Air New Zealand Ranked as world 2nd Safest Airline service for safety

The Australian carrier was praised for its “extraordinary fatality-free record in the jet era”, while Virgin Atlantic was the only UK airline to make it into the top 20.

In a separate ranking for low-cost airlines, two British carriers featured – Flybe and Thomas Cook.

The lists (see below for a full breakdown) were compiled by AirlineRatings.com, an independent plane safety and product rating website.

Top of the list for the third year is Australia’s Qantas, which has a fatality free record in the jet era – an extraordinary record. Making up the remainder of the top twenty in  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 and Virgin Australia.

AirlineRatings.com’s rating system takes into account a range of factors related to audits from aviation’s governing bodies and lead associations as well as government audits and the airline’s fatality record. AirlineRating.com’s editorial team, one of the world’s most awarded and experienced, also examined each airline’s operational history, incident records and operational excellence to arrive at its top twenty safest airlines.

British Airways scored a maximum seven stars for safety but did not make it into the top 20 airlines

The world's safest - and least safe - airlines revealed

Top of the list for the third year is Australia’s Qantas, which has a fatality free record in the jet era – an extraordinary record. Making up the remainder of the top twenty 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 and Virgin Australia.

AirlineRatings.com’s rating system takes into account a range of factors related to audits from aviation’s governing bodies and lead associations as well as government audits and the airline’s fatality record.

AirlineRating.com’s editorial team, one of the world’s most awarded and experienced, also examined each airline’s operational history, incident records and operational excellence to arrive at its top twenty safest airlines.

The website provided safety ratings for 407 airlines, awarding them up to seven stars for safety. Of those surveyed, 148 were given the top seven-star safety ranking but almost 50 had just three stars or less

BlueWingsAirlines, based in Suriname, was awarded just one star for safety

How does AirlineRatings.com calculate its safety star ratings, awarded to 407 airlines monitored?

  • Has the airline completed the IATA safety audit? If so, award two stars.
  • Is the airline on the EU blacklist? If no, award a star. If yes, no star is awarded.
  • Has the airline maintained a fatality-free safety record for the past 10 years? If yes, award a star. If no, no star is given.
  • Is the airline endorsed by the US Federal Aviation Authority? If yes, award a star.
  • Does the country of origin meet all International Civil Aviation Organisation safety parameters? If yes, award two stars.
  • Has the airline’s fleet been grounded over safety concerns?
  • Does the airline operate only Russian-made planes? If yes, remove a star.  For further details  visit  airlineRatings.com

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Germanwings – the airline at the centre of crash in which a pilot deliberately flew a plane into a mountain – retained its seven-star safety rating this year. Mr Thomas said that this was because the incident was attributed to pilot suicide.

“In our rating system, which is endorsed by aviation’s governing body the International Civil Aviation Organisation, if deaths occurred through acts of terrorism, high jacking or pilot suicide, they are not included in the crash record,” he said.

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Other airlines do, however, have records that prompted AirlineRatings.com to award them lower safety ratings.

Iraqi Airways was last month banned from operating in EU airspace, due to “unaddressed safety concerns” according to EU officials. AirlineRatings.com awarded the carrier a two-star safety rating.

Thailand’s aviation industry was placed under “special measures” last year after issues were flagged up by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Carriers including Thai Airways, which AirlineRatings.com awarded four out of seven stars for safety, were spared being placed on the EU blacklist, but officials said they would “closely monitor future developments” and would consider bans if air passenger safety was at risk.

Ten airlines, all from Indonesia, Nepal and Suriname, were deemed worthy of only one star for safety. They included Batik Air, one of whose planes reportedly skid off the runway at Indonesia’s Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto airport last November, and Paramaribo-based Bluewing Airlines.

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