AirlineRatings.com has published its list of the 20 safest airlines in 2022 and media outlets around the world have run with it, but I’m not running with it. I can’t even figure it out…
I’m Not Convinced About World’s Safest Airlines In 2022…
AirlineRatings.com calls itself the “world’s only airline safety, and product rating website,” then proceed to rank the top-20 airlines in 2022:
- Air New Zealand
- Etihad Airways
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- TAP Air Portugal
- Alaska Airlines
- EVA Air
- Virgin Australia/Atlantic
- Cathay Pacific Airways
- Hawaiian Airlines
- American Airlines
- Lufthansa/Swiss Group
- Air France/KLM Group
- British Airways
- Delta Air Lines
- United Airlines
Quite a list…
These airlines are “standouts in the industry and are at the forefront of safety, innovation, and launching of new aircraft.
AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas explains the process for ranking safety:
- crashes over 5 years
- serious incidents over two years
- audits from aviation’s governing bodies and lead associations
- government audits
- fleet age
- COVID protocols
“However all airlines have incidents every day, and many are aircraft or engine manufacture issues, not airline operational problems. It is the way the flight crew handles these incidents that determines a good airline from an unsafe one.”
But isn’ the occurrence of incidents precisely what leads to lower rankings, even if the crew responds well?
So why Air New Zealand? AirlineRatings notes Air New Zealand “operates in some of the most challenging weather conditions and remote environments.”
“It is also leading the way with technical innovation and has a very young fleet with an average age of just 6.8 years.”
“Air New Zealand is a stand-out airline with a firm focus on safety and its customers and over the past 18 months, COVID-19 has brought another new dimension to the challenges the industry faces.
“Air New Zealand has excelled across the broad safety spectrum never losing sight of the smallest detail while caring for its flight crews who have worked under significant stress.”
How about the other 20? Thomas said, “There is very little between the top 20, they are all standouts.” Alrighty then…
Qantas is no longer #1 because of an incident in Perth in 2018. Then, two 737s almost collided. A report blaming pilot error was not released until after the 2020 numbers had been released.
Thinking About Airline Safety
Some additional thoughts about the list, then I’ll make a general observation:
- Nice that Emirates makes the list after the recent 777 incident over Dubai…
- Since when are Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic the same airline?
- The Lufthansa Group is composed of five distinct airlines with different employees and pilot policies.
- Air France and KLM are also two very different airlines/
- How can Air New Zealand be number one when it has pared back its schedule so tremendously during the pandemic?
- COVID-19 protocols, which played into the rankings, included rewarding airlines for eliminating meal service (no wonder Air New Zealand won)
- How were the others ranked amongst themselves?
When we think about airline safety, my thoughts are simpler:
- Airlines are remarkably safe modes of transport.
- I don’t feel any more comfortable stepping onto an airplane because of a nebulous list of ranked “safe” carriers that smells of a publicity stunt.
- The issues on this list I noted above make me discount the list itself.
- However, I have no qualms flying any of these airlines, even Emirates (as well as those that didn’t make it).
You should be skeptical of lists like this, but I think the takeaway is always the same: flying is remarkably safe and I feel far safer onboard virtually any commercial aircraft than I do driving my own car.
image: Air New Zealand