Qantas, Emirates, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines rank among the world's safest 'seven star' airlines, but you take your life into your hands when you fly with Indonesia's Lion Air, Air India Express and Nepal's oddly-named Yeti Airlines.
Those are among the findings of a new website which rates the safety of airlines around the world.
AirlineRatings.com, headed by highly-regarded West Australian aviation journalist Geoffrey Thomas, claims to deliver "forensically researched" safety ratings based on a variety of official sources, including audits by government agencies and aviation bodies.
"We view safety holistically and objectively using only internationally recognised audits from the most respected bodies,” said Thomas, adding that "while air travel has never been safer and we found a record number of airlines –137 - with a seven-star ranking, while 43 have just three stars or less."
While major airlines in Australia and New Zealand airlines scored high ratings for both safety and product quality, many airlines from Africa and Indonesia rated very poorly – for example, Indonesia's Lion Air managed only two stars.
Seven stars for safety
Some of the seven-star safety rated airlines operating locally include Air New Zealand, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Southern, Emirates, Etihad, EVA Air, Korean Air, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.
Most of those also received a seven-star rating for a broader category which AirlineRatings describes as 'product quality'.
Virgin Australia didn't manage to grab a double seven-star gong, but Thomas notes that "once it has completed its extensive makeover, Virgin Australia will be a seven-star airline. It’s only product inconsistency on a few routes that keeps it out of the seven-star category."
Among the world's best low cost airlines are the USA's JetBlue Airways and Alaska Airlines and Germany's TUIfly, while Denver-based Frontier achieved both a seven-star safety rating and the budget airline maximum of a five-star product rating.
“In the case of JetBlue, Alaska Airlines and Frontier they often offer a better product than many so-called full service airlines in the US” Thomas observed.
Rating the ratings...
However, Thomas' fellow aviation correspondent Ben Sandlinands, author of the widely-read Plane Talking blog, has questioned some of the ratings, highlighting the fact that "Air France and Jetstar have both received the highest order of safety rating, 7/7, placing them on the same level as Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand and about 141 of the 425 airlines rated by the site."
Sandilands feels that AirlineRatings' list, "being based in part on the European no-fly list of airlines banned in European air space", has "no credibility whatsoever if it excludes Air France."
"Unquestioning acceptance of no fly lists, and statements by our safety regulators, can undermine the accuracy of the assessments made by this worthy website. If it looks like a recitation of PR driven messaging from the airlines and various safety agencies it will not be credible, although for some, it may seem comforting."
What are your thoughts on the safety rankings produced by AirlineRatings.com?
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