New website rates world's safest - and most dangerous - airlines

By David Flynn, June 11 2013
New website rates world's safest - and most dangerous - airlines

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., 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

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1435

Seems odd they do not take into account many dodgy  incidents (Jetstar) or aircraft falling into the sea (Air France) or aircaft clipping a fence and being out of action for several months (Emirates in Melbourne). A rather lazy and PR driven rating system where only third world airlines get a dodgy listing. It seems this person does not seem to read the newpapers, but only airline PR notes.   

I also question the safetly rating of the airlines, not only Airfrance and their many accidents however they seem to of forgotten when SQ went down a closed runway and there was many fatalities.

However I ask what "Dodgy" incidents you refer to in regards to Jetstar? 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 225

Don't forget about QF's 2001 Bangkok incident, 2008 A330 incident and the most recent A380 incident in 2010. Not to mention BA's 777 incident. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 789

QF32 wasn't QF's fault. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 789

It's a dud site, designed to get peoples' attention and earn through ad revenues. As much as Ben Sandilands can get a bit cranky he's right about the safety ratings. The uninformed will think it's great and everyone else will hopefully ignore it. 

13 May 2014

Total posts 1

Just for the record, Air France has always been rated a 6/7 for safety and until it's been 10 years since its last crash it will remain at a 6/7. At no stage was it a 7/7.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2011

Total posts 10

Seriouslyash, there have been several serious (read:dodgy) incidents at Jetstar over the past several years that have highlighted a culture at odds with the "Seven Star Safety Rating" that this article promotes. They are available to be viewed easily and in depth on the ATSB website.  As you rightly point out SQ, GA, EK, AF and many other high profile airlines regularly feature in questionable excellence awards dispite having had serious safety related incidents and accidents. 

Caveat Emptor...


07 Jun 2013

Total posts 18

Okay, there must be something wrong with the information on this website if China Airlines has a 7 star safety rating. I'm sure they are a better airline now but judging from the list of accidents they've had in the past two decades, I'd say it's a bit much to give them seven stars.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2012

Total posts 19

Just had a look at the website, interesting that Qatar only has a 5 star rating for safety, I thought they were a safe airline? 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 701

Geoffrey's rather late to the party (cue Western Australian jokes about time travel) with his airline review site, but at least he gave it a hook (even if his safety ratings could use a little more work).

There are better airline rating sites out there (more established and more broader in audience) so I'm not sure Mr Thomas will be able to live off his ad revenue, but another place to do some research ain't such a bad thing (it just won't kill Skytrax and the like). 


04 Nov 2010

Total posts 672

Nice idea but there are a few too many holes in their assessment and judgement of airline safety. And trying to then mix that into 'quality' (whatever that means!) plus reviews makes this Yet Another Ratings Site instead of just sticking to airline safety, and doing that one thing really well. Geoffrey Thomas is an expert in aviation journalism but he should have just stuck to 'safety' as the site's differentiator.

China Airlines - Dynasty Flyer

22 Sep 2012

Total posts 74

In response to Andy. You need to look at all the critieria and etc about how they award stars and take them away.


Concerning fatal accidents this organisation only looks back at the previous 10 years. Where as another ratings looks back 30years? I personally think 15years would be a suitable range. In this case might not have their full 7 star rating. However they should have it if in 2-3 years time there are still no fatal incidents I think a 7 start is valid.

China airlines has paid a heavy price for their poor safety but i think they should start to be seen as changed. At the end of the day flying now on all the major airlines (biggest 50) is far safer than any other transportation. So this consideration of who i fly is very minor.

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