Skip to content

January 6, 2016


World’s Safest And Most Unsafe Airlines

by Jason Dutton-Smith
Our big bird; the mighty Qantas Boeing 747-400 on arrival back to Adelaide.

Airline safety is a big factor in a person’s decision to fly, or not to fly, to their destination. The list of the world’s safest and most unsafe airlines has just been released from Australian ratings company which marks each airline out of seven stars based on select criteria.

What is the safety criteria?

There are seven categories that each airline is marked against to give a possible seven out of seven stars. The more stars, the safer the airline is ranked. Here is the breakdown.

  1. Is the airline IOSA or ISSA certified? If yes two stars are awarded; if not, no star is given. IOSA is the IATA Operational Safety Audit. An international recognised and accepted evaluation system of the airlines operational management and control systems. ISSA certification is similar to IOSA but tailored for airlines that operate small regional aircraft – usually with 35 seats or less and is not mandatory.
  2. Is the airline on the European Union (EU) Blacklist? If no a full star is awarded; if yes then no star is given. Airlines are banned from flying in the European airspace if they have allegedly poor safety records.
  3. Has the airline maintained a fatality free record for the past 10 years? If yes the airline is awarded a full star; if not then no star is given.
  4. Is the airline FAA endorsed? If yes a full star is awarded; if not, no star is given. The FAA is the Federal Aviation Authority based in the United States. Similar to the EU Blacklist, except the FAA bans countries (not individual airlines) from flying in US airspace.
  5. Does the country of airline origin meet all 8 ICAO safety parameters? If yes two stars are awarded to the airline. If 5 to 7 of the criteria are met one star is awarded. ICAO is the International Civil Aviation Organization. It was created to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation world-wide.
  6. Has the airline’s fleet been grounded by the country’s governing aviation safety authority due to safety concerns? If yes an additional star will be taken off the total for five years from the time of grounding
  7. Does the airline operate only Russian built aircraft? If yes an additional star will be taken off the total.

Top 20 safest airlines in the world

Australian airline Qantas has topped the list for the third year in a row due to its unblemished safety record and ability to meet all the rating criteria. Australia’s second largest airline, Virgin Australia, also made the top 20 list.

Qantas A380 over Sydney Harbour

Qantas A380 over Sydney Harbour

Virgin Australia Aircraft Tails

Virgin Australia Aircraft Tails

The remaining top 20 is listed below in alphabetical order.

  • Air New Zealand – New Zealand
  • Alaska Airlines – USA
  • All Nippon Airways (ANA) – Japan
  • American Airlines – USA
  • Cathay Pacific – Hong Kong
  • Emirates – Unites Arab Emirates
  • Etihad Airways – United Arab Emirates
  • EVA Air – Taiwan
  • Finnair – Finland
  • Hawaiian Airlines – USA
  • Japan Airlines – Japan
  • KLM – The Netherlands
  • Lufthansa – Germany
  • Scandinavian Airline System (SAS) – (Sweden)
  • Singapore Airlines – Singapore
  • Swiss – Switzerland
  • United Airlines – USA
  • Virgin Atlantic – United Kingdom
  • Virgin Australia – Australia


Skytrax Awards – World’s best airlines list
Jetlag – How to avoid jetlag
Economy Seats – How to choose the best economy seat
Packing Tips – How to pack for a long haul flight

Book cheap tours, activities and transfers here.

Book cheap tours, activities & transfers world-wide here today.

Cheap hotels available now with our partner Agoda.

Book cheap hotels & accommodation world-wide here today.

Top 10 safest Low Cost Carriers (LCC) airlines in the world

The past decade has seen a rapid rise world-wide in LCC airlines. The following list in alphabetical order was deemed the safest LCCs by having excellent safety records and all passing the stringent IOSA audits.

  • Aer Lingus – Ireland
  • Flybe – United Kingdom
  • HK Express – Hong Kong
  • Jetblue – USA
  • Jetstar Australia – Australia (a subsidiary of Qantas)
  • Thomas Cook – United Kingdom
  • TUIfly – Germany
  • Virgin America – USA
  • Volaris – Mexican
  • Westjet – Canada

World’s most unsafe airlines

Of the 407 airlines surveyed, 148 have the top seven-star safety ranking, but almost 50 have just three stars or less. The following five airlines have only one star rounding out the bottom of the list.

  • Kam Air – Afghanistan
  • SCAT Airlines – Kazakhstan
  • Lion Air – Indonesia
  • Nepal Airlines – Nepal
  • Tara Air – Nepal

The following airlines listed alphabetically received between two and three stars only.

  • Air Bagan – Myanmar
  • Air India Express – India
  • AirAsia Malaysia – Malaysia
  • AirAsia Indonesia – Indonesia
  • AirAsia Zest – Philippines
  • Airlines PNG – Papua New Guinea
  • ASKY Airlines – West Africa conglomerate
  • Avia Traffic Company – Kyrgyzstan
  • Blue Wing – Suriname
  • Camair-Co – Camaroon
  • Cambodia Angkor Air – Cambodia
  • Daallo Airlines – Dubai
  • Drukair Royal Bhutan – Bhutan
  • Fastjet – Tanzania
  • fly540 – Kenya
  • Garuda Indonesia – Indonesia
  • Iraqi Airways – Iraq
  • JetStar Pacific – Vietnam
  • Lao Airlines – Laos
  • Maldivian – Maldives
  • Maldivian Air Taxi – Maldives
  • Mega Maldives – Maldives
  • Moldavian Airlines – Moldova
  • Nauru Airlines – Republic of Nauru
  • Polynesian Airlines – Samoa
  • Rwand Air – Rwanda
  • Somon Air – Tajikistan
  • Sriwijaya Air – Indonesia
  • TAAG Angola Airlines – Angola
  • Tajik Air – Tajikistan
  • Trans Maldivian Airways – Maldives
  • VietJet Air – Vietnam
  • Wings Air – Indonesia
  • Xpress Air – Indonesia
  • Yeti Airlines – Nepal
Read more from Aviation, Travel Tips

Let us know your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

%d bloggers like this: