Air New Zealand has been named the world's safest airline in this year's rankings, while Qantas has dropped from the top slot in the wake of a serious incident.
The annual list from AirlinesRatings.com put Air New Zealand in first place ahead of Etihad, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and TAP Portugal. Air New Zealand ranked third last year.
Qantas, which was named at No.1 in 2021, fell to seventh on the list with Virgin Australia placed equal 10th with Virgin Atlantic.
"These airlines like Air New Zealand have outstanding records and are at the forefront of safety," said AirlineRatings.com editor-in-chief, Geoffrey Thomas.
"Air New Zealand also has an extremely young fleet and its pilots fly in some of the most difficult conditions from windy Wellington to the Southern Alps.
"The last two years have been extremely difficult for airlines with COVID-19 slashing travel and Airline Ratings editors have particularly focused on the lengths airlines are undertaking to re-train pilots ahead of a return to service. Air New Zealand is a leader in this field with comprehensive retraining."
"Air New Zealand has also been a lead airline in many major operational safety advancements over the past 40 years," Mr. Thomas said.
The rankings are based on multiple factors including the airline's crash and serious incident record, fleet age, audits from aviation's governing bodies and lead associations; government audits, operational innovation, COVID protocols, and balance sheet strength.
An incident at Perth Airport in 2018 was to blame for the Flying Kangaroo's drop in the rankings.
An Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigation found a near miss between two Qantas aircraft, which came within 15 metres of each other after one jet nearly crossed on to a runway in the path of another taking off. Several changes were made at Perth Airport as a result of the incident. Although the event happened in 2018, the ASTB's report was not issued until October 2020, which was deemed too late to affect Qantas' ranking last year.
Last week Air New Zealand made the decision to stop serving food on board its domestic flights in order to get passengers to keep their masks on for the duration of the flight, in the wake of the spread of the Omicron variant. Instead, passengers are being provided with a snack as they disembark the plane.
In October, the airline announced all passengers on international flights would need to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 becoming, along with Qantas, one of the world's first carriers to introduce a vaccine mandate for travellers. The airline also became the first in the world to demand that passengers on domestic flights show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.
Air New Zealand last suffered a fatal accident in 2008, when a technical flight in France crashed into the Mediterranean, killing six crew and a New Zealand aviation official. No passengers were on board. Prior to that, the airline had not had a fatal accident since 1979, when an Antarctic sightseeing flight crashed into Mount Erebus, killing 257 on board.
Although AirlineRatings.com does not officially rank the least-safe airlines, the following carriers received only a one-star safety rating: Air Algerie (Algeria), Airblue (Pakistan), Blue Wing (Suriname), Iran Aseman Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, Scat (Kazakhstan), Sriwijaya Air (Indonesia) and Iran Air.
The world's safest airlines for 2022
- Air New Zealand
- Etihad Airways
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- TAP 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