New Information On Safest and Worst Domestic and Foreign Airlines

July 29, 2010

By Terry Smiljanich:

In the year since Consumer Warning Network ranked the world’s airlines on their safety record, the top airlines have retained their safety record, but the list of worst airlines in the world has changed considerably. On July 28, a Pakistani Air Blue flight from Karachi to Islamabad, crashed on approach and killed all 152 passengers and crew. Let’s take another look at the record.

The fatality records of the top eight airlines in the United States (those having more than 2 million flights per year) have not changed in a year. The number of fatal events per million miles traveled remains as follows:

  1. Southwest Airlines        0.00 (no fatalities in its history)
  2. Delta Airlines                 0.17
  3. Northwest Airlines       0.21
  4. Continental Airlines     0.24
  5. US Air                              0.28
  6. United Airlines              0.31
  7. Alaska Airlines              0.33
  8. American Airlines        0.40

Similarly, the top foreign airlines with more than 2 million flights per year remains the same as last year:

  1. British Airlines             0.17
  2. SAS                                 0.19
  3. Lufthansa                      0.22
  4. All Nippon Airlines     0.22
  5. Air France                     0.72

The worst commercial airlines in the world, based on fatalities, have a new cast of characters. The Hall of Shame is as follows:

  1. Cubana 18.53
  2. Air Zimbabwe 11.54
  3. Aero Peru 9.74
  4. Royal Jordanian 7.99
  5. Egypt Air 7.60
  6. TAM Brazil                           7.40
  7. China Airlines (Taiwan) 7.16
  8. Air India 4.89
  9. Pakistan Airlines 4.55
  10. Ethiopian Airlines 4.06

As last year, the People’s Republic of China still does not report airline fatality incidents, so it is not known where its safety record stands.

Thus, as we found last year, the major airlines have enviable safety records, while smaller national airlines of foreign countries generally have much poorer records.

That is not to say, however, that the major airlines are without dangerous incidents. A United Airlines flight on July 20, 2010, from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles encountered turbulence en route, injuring 26 passengers and 4 crew members. On July 27, 2010, a Lufthansa cargo flight crashed on landing and broke in two, although neither crew member was injured.

All in all, however, it remains true that the most dangerous part of air travel is the drive to the airport.