Australian airline Qantas has been named the world's safest airline for the third year in a row by AirlineRatings, the world's leading airline safety review website. In its annual review, the website announced its top 20 safest airlines and top COVID-compliant airlines for 2021 from the 385 airlines it monitors.

In making its selections, the safety and product rating website's editors and its industry advisers took numerous critical factors into account. These include audits from aviation's governing bodies and leading associations; government audits; airline's crash and serious incident record, fleet age, financial position and pilot training and culture. Qatar Airways came in second place in the list of safest airlines, followed by Air New Zealand (3rd), Singapore Airlines (4th), Emirates (5th), EVA Air (6th), Etihad Airways (7th), Alaska Airlines (8th), Cathay Pacific Airways (9th), and British Airways (10th).

A Qantas plane flying over Sydney
Qantas has been named the world's safest airline for 2020 © Qantas's editors only look at serious incidents in making its determinations. All airlines have incidents every day, it says, and many are aircraft or engine manufacture issues instead of airline operational problems. It is the way the flight crew handles incidents that determines a good airline from an unsafe one.

"Australia’s Qantas has been recognised by the British Advertising Standards Association in a test case as the world’s most experienced airline," says editor-in-chief, Geoffrey Thomas. "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." It also praised the airline for its commitment in retraining pilots who are returning to the skies after the pandemic by offering them a six-day course with one day focused on wellbeing.

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A plane in the air in a golden sky
Qantas' safety record was particularly commended © Dede Vargas/Getty Images

The aviation group also assessed airlines on COVID-19 protocol across a number of factors, including the airlines' website information on COVID-19, the provision of face masks for passengers and PPE for crew, the modification of meal services, the deep cleaning of aircraft, the provision of personal sanitiser kit, and social distancing on board. The top 20 COVID-compliant airlines are, in alphabetical order: Air Baltic, Air New Zealand, Alaska Airlines, All Nippon Airways, AirAsia, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Eva Air, Japan Airlines, Jetblue, KLM, Korean Airlines, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Southwest, Qatar Airways and Westjet.

In the era of COVID-19 "all these airlines have been trendsetters in making travel as safe as possible," Mr Thomas added.

This article was first published on January 6, 2020 and updated on January 4, 2021.

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This article was first published Jan 6, 2020 and updated Jan 5, 2021.

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