The year 2017 was one of the safest on record for airlines, and this is something that United States President Donald Trump attempted to take credit for with a Twitter update after the holidays. Indeed, major accidents and safety violations were kept to a minimum in 2017; according to the Aviation Safety Network, a non-profit industry group, not a single life was lost in commercial passenger flights during the last year, at least not aboard large aircraft. Although there were some fatalities involving small charter flights, including a tragedy that killed 10 American passengers in a mountainous region of Costa Rica, the overall situation in 2017 made it the safest year since 2009.
Airline industry executives welcomed the report and have made commitments to continue operating in the safest manner possible during 2018. A series of safety audits and reports recently published by AirlineRatings.com shows that some carriers are performing better than others in terms of safety, and two airlines based in the United Kingdom are considered the safest as the New Year begins.
British Airways managed to rank higher than Qantas, the premier Australian air carrier, in terms of safety. Virgin Airlines, also based in the UK, came in second while Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand followed. Only two carriers based in the U.S. made the list: Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines. Conspicuously absent from the list were Delta and United, two airlines that did not suffer major accidents but had too many incidents in 2017 to be considered among the safety leaders.
Aircraft acquisition was one of the ranking factors that determined inclusion of airlines on the safety list. The new Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 are commercial jets that have been designed and manufactured with advanced safety features. In terms of budget air carriers, Aer Lingus and Thomas Cook in Europe were among the few low-cost flight providers that have scored satisfactorily on the International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit, which is known to be a particularly strict assessment.
The New Year airline safety report also ranked those carriers that were not as careful and diligent in 2017. Luckily for American passengers, no domestic airlines were placed on that list; in fact, only one carrier in the Americas received low ratings, and that is Blue Wing from Suriname. North Korea’s Air Koryo, an airline that operates on a sporadic basis, was the lowest rated Asian airline.