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Ignore prophets of doom, airline travel is your safest bet

Road fatalities rising alarmingly, says National Safety Council

Ignore prophets of doom, airline travel is your safest bet
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Ignore prophets of doom, airline travel is your safest bet

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With more and more passengers not wanting to fly, airlines are under pressure to have the best safety standards. Many airlines are trying to assure passengers that air travel is a safe proposition.

The maximum rating an airline can get for safety is seven stars. This month, AirlineRatings.com announced its safest airlines for 2023. The study looked at 385 airlines at the forefront of safety, innovation, and launching new aircraft.

The study to determine the safest airlines in 2023 analyzed parameters like crashes over the last five years; serious incidents over two years; audits from aviation's governing bodies and lead associations fleet age; expert analysis of pilot training and adopting Covid protocols

It's important to note that while Alaska Airlines was the only US carrier to figure in the top 10, those like Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines did make the top 20 list.

"All airlines have incidents every day, and most of them are aircraft or engine manufacture issues and not airline operational problems. It is the way the flight crew handles those incidents that determine a good airline from an unsafe one," points out Geoffrey Thomas, editor-in-chief AirlineRatings.com.

Qantas is considered the industry's most experienced airline because it has 100 years of operational history. Air New Zealand was the best airline in the 'Airline Excellence' awards. The airline that came in third place was Etihad Airways, the second-largest airline in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), after Emirates.

The global aviation analytic group OAG has named Etihad Airways, UAE's national airline, as the most punctual airline in the Middle East and among the most reliable in the world.

In its 'punctuality league rating for 2022, OAG listed Etihad as the best in the GCC region. It achieved an on-time arrival performance within 15 minutes of 81 per cent. It also continued to maintain one of the lowest cancellation rates worldwide, ensuring an enhanced guest experience with trustworthy flight schedules.

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Chief Operating Officer of Etihad Airways, said delivering a safe and reliable airline operation will remain the first priority.

"Commitment to our guests, flying for business or leisure, is that Etihad delivers to its schedule; it continues to strive to increase reliability through the efforts of its people and deployment of technology and innovation."

On-time performance is defined by OAG as a flight arriving within 15 minutes of its scheduled time, a standard measure within the airline industry, taking into account the range of variable factors which can affect operations.

Etihad's home base, Abu Dhabi International Airport, was also placed in the five most punctual airports in the Middle East.

Other Airline Safety Evaluators

Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre (JADEC): This German organization has rightfully earned its place as the barometer by which the world's safest airlines are measured. JADEC factors in three main categories that have an impact on risk factors. They include aircraft accidents and incidents - both major ones involving fatalities and minor ones, as simple as skidding off the runway, environmental factors like weather and terrain, and airline operational factors such as fleet age and route profiles.

Airlines for America: This U.S.-based non-profit organization, which lobbies and consults with members of Congress to pass laws that benefit air travelers, uses data from the National Safety Council to assemble an annual safety record for U.S. air carriers. Like AirlineRatings.com, Airlines for America does not exclusively focus on safety and has interests in various areas of air travel, including transparency in pricing and the effect of airline mergers in the competitive landscape.

SkyTrax: SkyTrax is an international air transport rating organization based in London. This entity analyzes over 190 safety and hygiene protocols, including customer and staff safety, standards of social distancing, the efficacy of cleaning systems both in the airport and onboard and appropriate measures to enhance hygiene protection like face mask use. They categorize airlines with three different types of ratings: a five-star (excellent), a four-star (good) and a three-star (average). You can sign up for frequent updates through SkyTrax to make sure your preferred airline is up to snuff before you travel.

Meanwhile, the one thing that one should bear in mind, regardless of how each year's list shapes up, is that air travel is still the safest way to travel anywhere in the world.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), your odds of dying in an airplane crash, based on stats collected in 2019, were "too few to calculate." In contrast, the same organization cited a one in 107 chances of death in a motor vehicle road accident. So, even when taking 'dangerous' airlines into account, flying is still the safest way to go.

Sydelle Fernandes
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