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The world’s safest airlines for 2023

These are the carriers with the best track records for safety and reliability this year.

For some, flying can be a nervous experience that brings anxiety and fear, but that shouldn’t stop you from travelling by air.

While there are many ways to help calm your nerves, choosing a carrier that is renowned for its safety and lack of incidents can make all the difference.

Each year, Airline Ratings releases a list of the top 20 safest airlines in the world.

To determine this list, the site monitors and analyses 385 airlines, taking into account information and audits from the world’s aviation governing body, lead associations and governments, as well as the airlines' crash records over 5 years and serious incidents over 2 years.

The operational history, fleet age, pilot training, COVID protocols and operational excellence of each airline are also reviewed to determine its safety rating.

Air New Zealand airplane

Top 20 safest airlines in the world for 2023

The top 20 airline standouts are at the forefront of safety, innovation and launching of new planes.

  1. Cathay Pacific
  2. Hawaiian Airlines
  3. SAS
  4. United Airlines
  5. Lufthansa
  6. Finnair
  7. British Airways
  8. KLM
  9. American Airlines
  10. Delta Air Lines

In 2023 Qantas reclaimed its spot as the safest airline in the world after having dropped down to number 7 last year.

The Flying Kangaroo was particularly praised by AirlineRatings.com for "its record of firsts in operations and safety" and has been named the industry's most experienced airline.

As part of its firsts Qantas has been a leader in developing the Future Air Navigation System which records flight data and monitors plane and crew performance. It also monitors its engines in real time to detect and fix any problems before they become a safety issue.

Qantas isn't the only airline in the region to have its praises sung in 2023. Air New Zealand, which was the lead airline in 2022, nipped at its toes coming in 2nd place.

Etihad held its 3rd position as fellow UAE carrier Emirates climbed back up from the bottom (20) to number 7.

European airline KLM re-entered the list while Air France dropped off.

"Our top 20 safest airlines 2023 are always at the forefront of safety innovation, operational excellence and the launching of new, more advanced aircraft like the Airbus 350 and Boeing 787," said AirlineRatings.com editor-in-chief Geoffrey Thomas.

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How are the world's safest airlines determined?

Assessments of safety are rated out of 7 stars.

  1. Being airline IOSA (International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit) certified (2 stars)
  2. Not being on the European Union Blacklist (1 star)
  3. Being fatality free for the past 10 years (1 star)
  4. Being FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) endorsed (1 star)
  5. Originating from a country that meets all 8 ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) safety parameters (2 stars)

No stars are awarded if the airline does not completely meet those criteria. Stars are also docked if the airline's fleet has been grounded by the country's governing aviation safety authority over safety concerns in the past 5 years or if the airline only operates Russian-built aircraft.


How does this list stack up against fatalities?

Qantas isn't the only airline to be incident-free when it comes to fatalities – though it probably gets that reputation from the movie Rain Man. The majority of airlines on this list have been incident-free since 1970 (or since their inception). This includes includes Emirates, EVA Air, Finnair, Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.

Of the rest, this is what the number of fatal incidents looks like. Beside each is the year of that carrier's last fatal incident.


How does the Safest Airlines list compare to the list of top 10 best airlines?

Each year, Skytrax releases a list of its top-rated airlines based on an annual customer satisfaction survey. The last list was released in July 2022.

Unsurprisingly, many of the top-rated airlines also appear on the list of the world’s safest airlines, including Qatar Airways, Air New Zealand, Etihad Airways, Qantas, Virgin Australia/Atlantic, EVA Air, Emirates and Cathay Pacific.


World's safest low-cost airlines 2023 (in alphabetical order)

Alongside its list of safest airlines, Airline Ratings also announced a list of its top low-cost carriers for flyers on a budget.

In previous years the list has been rounded off at 10, but in 2023 AirlineRatings.com has expanded it to deliver the top 20 safest low-cost airlines.

As a result Asian airlines AirAsia Group, IndiGo, Scoot and Spicejet have made the cut. American airlines Southwest and Spirit have also been introduced to the list.

Here are the top 20:

  1. Air Arabia
  2. AirAsia Group
  3. Allegiant
  4. Air Baltic
  5. easyjet
  6. FlyDubai
  7. Frontier
  8. Jetstar Group
  9. Jetblue
  10. Indigo
  11. Ryanair
  12. Scoot
  13. Southwest
  14. Spicejet
  15. Spirit
  16. Vueling
  17. Vietjet
  18. Volaris
  19. Westjet
  20. Wizz Air

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