World’s top 20 safest airlines for 2021 revealed

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Flights around the world may have been grounded due to the global pandemic in 2020, but it was not enough to lower the number of people killed in accidents.

In fact, according to, the only safety, product, and COVID-19 rating website in the world, 42 more individuals died in major aviation accidents in 2020 than in 2019. This is one of the reasons why airline safety continues to be at the forefront of the minds of travelers.

As part of its annual safety rankings, the website has announced which airlines are the safest. The safety and product rating website considers audits from governing and industry bodies; government audits; crash and serious incident records from individual airlines; profitability, industry-leading safety initiatives; and fleet age to conclude its ranking.

The global pandemic has added additional criteria. As airlines resumed flying after grounding fleets, aircrafts that had been parked for months had to be deemed operationally safe, and the retraining of crew, pilots and ground staff after periods of non-service were also considered.

“Last year was extremely difficult for airlines with Covid-19 slashing travel and Airline Ratings editors have looked particularly at the lengths airlines are going to retrain pilots ahead of a return to service. In the case of Qantas, a 737 pilot goes through a six-day course, including a day on well-being,” said Airline Ratings’ editor-in-chief, Geoffrey Thomas.

Deciding criteria

When it comes to determining the ranking, editors at the airline safety website look at serious incidents airlines have been involved in over the past 12 months.

While the number of total air disasters in 2020 was lower, 40 compared to 86 in 2019, the death rate per incidence was higher with 299 people killed in 2020, according to aviation consulting firms. This increase was despite the number of commercial flights falling by an estimated 42 percent.

Safest airlines

Qantas Airlines Image

The safest airline in the world is Qantas. Australia’s largest airline and the country’s flag carrier was ranked first by “Qantas has been the lead airline in virtually every major operational safety advancement over the past 60 years and has not had a fatality in the pure-jet era,” said Mr. Thomas.

Qantas operated fewer flights in 2020 than in previous years after the airline grounded international flights as part of its long-term recovery plan. It is set to begin selling tickets on almost all international routes again from July 1, 2021.

“These airlines have outstanding records and are at the forefront of safety,” said Mr. Thomas. “Australia’s Qantas, for instance, has been recognized by the British Advertising Standards Association, in a test case in 2008, as the world’s most experienced airline.”

Qatar Airways grabbed the second spot while Dubai’s Emirates is ranked as the fifth safest airline in 2021. Etihad, the national airline of the UAE, was listed in seventh position.

The rest of the list is made up by Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, EVA Air, Alaska Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Airlines, American Airlines, SAS, Finnair, Lufthansa, KLM and United Airlines.

Top 10 safest low cost airlines

Responding to the public interest, the also identified their Top 10 safest & best low-cost airlines. They are: Air Arabia, Allegiant, easyjet, Frontier, Jetstar Group, Jetblue, Ryanair, Vietjet, Westjet, and Wizz.