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These are the safest airlines in the world, according to one ranking

Taylor Rains   

These are the safest airlines in the world, according to one ranking
  • AirlineRatings.com has published its annual list of the world's safest airlines for 2024.
  • Air New Zealand took back its crown as the world's safest carrier, beating out Qantas.

Airline safety is at the forefront of many people's minds after a fiery Japan Airlines collision with a Japanese Coast Guard plane in Tokyo.

Five people in the Coast Guard's Dash-8 died. Miraculously, however, all 379 passengers and crew on the Airbus A350 jetliner survived. The accident could have been much worse, underlining the survivability of modern airliners thanks to a hyperfocus on safety.

AirlineRatings.com, a source for airline safety rankings and product reviews, monitors the safety of hundreds of airlines on a global scale. On Wednesday, the website released its annual list of the world's top safest carriers.

Of the 385 airlines evaluated, the top spot went to Air New Zealand, which regained its crown after losing out to this year's second-place winner, Australia-based Qantas, in 2023.

"[ANZ] operates in some of the most challenging weather environments, which test pilot skills," AirlineRatings.com's editor in chief, Geoffrey Thomas, said. "For instance, Wellington is one of the most windy airports in the world, while Queenstown is a huge navigation challenge."

Thomas said AirlineRatings.com analyzes 11 categories to come up with the results, including recent fatal accidents and serious incidents, audits from aviation regulators, safety initiatives, fleet age, flight crew training, and profitability.

Safety events involving things the carriers cannot control, like turbulence and bird strikes, were omitted. Thomas also explained that the list grew from the typical 20 to 25 this year because the "margins between [the airlines] were so fine."

The results between ANZ and Qantas were particularly close. The two airlines only differed by 1.50 points, with ANZ winning out thanks to its lower fleet age — which has an average of 9.5 years, according to Planespotters.

That's about five years lower than Qantas' nearly 15-year-old average fleet age. But the Qantas Group will soon receive nearly 200 new planes as part of its multibillion-dollar fleet renewal plan, which it says will see one aircraft delivered every three weeks "over the next few years."

Japan Airlines also made the list, coming in at number 19. Up until this month's accident, the company had not been involved in a fatal crash since 1985.

Thomas noted in the results that all airlines have incidents, including some that were not the fault of the airline. In JAL's case, the investigation so far shows the root cause may be due to the actions of the Dash-8.

"It is the way the flight crew handles these serious incidents that determines a good airline from an unsafe one," Thomas said.

Delta Air Lines, which was number 20 in 2023, is absent from AirlineRatings' list this year. The US' other two major carriers, United Airlines and American Airlines, made the list both years.

"Delta's dedication to safety is innate and deep within the core of our operational approach," a spokesperson for the airline told Business Insider. "Safety supersedes every operational move at Delta, and that's why we engage regularly with federal authorities and industry partnerships in safety-related topics, conduct and share data analyses, and continually reinforce our Safety Management System framework in partnership with the FAA, of which Delta was the first airline operator to achieve."

AirlineRatings' results came a day after aviation data provider Cirium awarded Delta its "platinum award" for its "operational excellence." Delta was the world's fourth-most punctual airline of 2023 and the most on-time in North America.

Here's a closer look at the world's top 25 safest airlines for 2024, according to AirlineRatings.com.

25. United Airlines

Base: US

2022 Ranking: 14

24. Air Canada Group

Base: Canada

2022 Ranking: Not in the top 20

23. Air France

Base: France

2022 Ranking: Not in the top 20

22. American Airlines

Base: US

2022 Ranking: 19

21. Hawaiian Airlines

Base: US

2022 Ranking: 12

20. Japan Airlines

Base: Japan

2022 Ranking: Not in the top 20

19. KLM

Base: Netherlands

2022 Ranking: 18

18. Lufthansa/Swiss Group

Base: Germany

2022 Ranking: 15

17. TAP Air Portugal

Base: Portugal

2022 Ranking: 6

16. Turkish Airlines

Base: Turkey

2022 Ranking: Not in the top 20

15. British Airways

Base: UK

2022 Ranking: 17

14. EVA Air

Base: Taiwan

2022 Ranking: 9

13. Singapore Airlines

Base: Singapore

2022 Ranking: 5

12. Korean Air

Base: South Korea

2022 Ranking: Not in the top 20

11. Scandinavian Airlines

Base: Sweden

2022 Ranking: 13

10. Alaska Airlines

Base: US

2022 Ranking: 8

9. Cathay Pacific Airways

Base: Hong Kong

2022 Ranking: 11

8. Finnair

Base: Finnair

2022 Ranking: 16

7. All Nippon Airways

Base: Japan

2022 Ranking: Not in the top 20

6. Emirates

Base: UAE

2022 Ranking: 7

5. Qatar Airways

Country: Qatar

2022 Ranking: 4

4. Etihad Airways

Country: UAE

2022 Ranking: 3

3. Virgin Australia

Base: Australia

2022 Ranking: 10

2. Qantas

Base: Australia

2022 Ranking: 1

1. Air New Zealand

Base: New Zealand

2022 Ranking: 2


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