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- AirlineRatings revealed its picks for the world’s 20 safest airlines in 2020.
- Asian-Pacific, Middle Eastern and European carriers dominated the list.
- US carriers accounted for only two entries on the list.
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Despite recent events including the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 and two Boeing 737 Max aircraft crashes in 2018, air travel via commercial airlines is still widely regarded as one of the safest forms of travel. In 2019, only 14 airliner aircraft suffered fatal crashes out of over 39 million flights, Forbes reported.
AirlineRatings recently unveiled its list of the 20 safest airlines for 2020, which it creates with the help of industry professionals. The list takes into account more than just accidents with factors such as “safety, innovation, and launching of new aircraft” affecting an airline’s ranking.
Here’s which airlines the website believes to be the safest in the skies this year.
20. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
- Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images
The airline recently celebrated its 100th birthday in November, making it the world’s oldest carrier still in operation.
One of the more notable pilots on its roster is the King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander. A trained pilot, the Dutch royal secretly flew passenger services on the Fokker 70, with the airline holding true to its name, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
19. Aer Lingus
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Operating a fleet consisting primarily of Airbus aircraft, the Irish flag carrier is in the midst of a rebranding campaign that will see its aircraft wearing new paint jobs (known as liveries).
Removing much of the green that the Emerald Isle is associated with, The airline went the way of its European colleagues in favor of a white exterior, removing much of the green.
- Ralph Orlowski/Reuters
The de-facto German flag carrier was one of the first airlines to place an order for the Boeing 777X, the next-generation successor to the popular Boeing 777 family.
The new aircraft will debut a new business class cabin for Lufthansa, helping earn it a 5-star rating from Skytrax in 2017, the first European carrier to earn the title, according to the travel blog One Mile at a Time.
- Phil Noble/Reuters
Finnair is one of the oldest and northernmost-based airlines still in operation.
The airline has recently been expanding its Asian presence in the past few years, growing routes to countries including China and Japan.
16. Swiss International Air Lines
- Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
The Swiss flag carrier was one of the first European operators of the Airbus A220 (formerly the Bombardier C Series) aircraft.
Serving destinations across Europe, Asia, North America, South America, and Africa, the carrier also offers stopover programs for its passengers connecting through its primary hub in Zurich.
15. Royal Jordanian
- Nicolas Economou/Getty
Operating a small fleet of 24 passenger aircraft, according to planespotters.net, Royal Jordanian’s operation is primarily centered around serving regional Middle Eastern and European destinations. Its short and medium-haul fleet is comprised of Airbus A320 family aircraft, the Embraer E170 and Embraer E190, fleet data shows, with its shortest route being Amman to Tel Aviv at 59 nautical miles.
The airline long-haul fleet is centered around the Boeing 787 Dreamliner which operates flights from Amman to such destinations as New York, Montreal, and Bangkok.
14. SAS Scandinavian Airlines
- Charles Platiau/Reuters
A long-time operator of Airbus widebody aircraft, Scandinavian Airlines is planning to deploy its newest aircraft, the Airbus A350-900 XWB, on the Copenhagen to Chicago route in late-January.
13. TAP Air Portugal
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Under new guidance from airline entrepreneur David Neeleman, the Portuguese flag carrier has acquired a slew of new aircraft including some from the Airbus A320neo family. The carrier became the launch operator of the Airbus A330-900neo when it took delivery of the aircraft in November 2018, deploying it to cities such as New York and Sao Paulo from Lisbon.
Seeking to establish itself as a major European airline, TAP is growing and expanding its fleet and route network to match. The airline recently starting service to San Francisco and Washington, D.C. from Lisbon with announced routes to Montreal, Canada and Maceio, Brazil.
12. Virgin Atlantic Airways
- Nicolas Economou/Getty Images
Virgin Atlantic is currently in the midst of a fleet renewal and expansion that saw it begin operating the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and Airbus A350-1000 XWB while starting retiring older aircraft such as the Boeing 747-400 and Airbus A340-600. The airline also has an order for the Airbus A330-900neo, in use with airlines such as TAP Air Portugal and Delta Air Lines.
Seeking to be the United Kingdom’s second flag carrier alongside British Airways, Virgin Atlantic has lobbied for London’s Heathrow Airport to be more liberal in its slot system so it can launch more routes. Primarily a long-haul airline, Tel Aviv became the airline’s closest destination from London and its only medium-haul route.
11. Hawaiian Airlines
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The unofficial flag carrier of the Hawaiian island, Hawaiian Airlines provides both intra-island and medium to long-haul flights. The airline is also undergoing a fleet renewal and snubbed Airbus, whose A330-200 and A321neo aircraft it operates when it decided to go with Boeing and its 787 Dreamliner aircraft for its future needs instead of the Airbus A350 xWB.
Hawaiian Airlines also utilizes the Boeing 717, an aircraft that has never suffered a fatal crash, according to Boeing, for its intra-island hops. The airline was also ranked as one of the most on-time airlines in the world, the only American carrier to be in the top 10 list.
10. Virgin Australia
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The Australian carrier is an offshoot of the Virgin Group and is one of two remaining airlines that bears the Virgin name. The airline primarily serves domestic, Oceanic, and Asian-Pacific destinations with additional long-haul services to Los Angeles and Hong Kong.
9. Cathay Pacific
- Thomas Peter/Reuters
Though experiencing disruptions Cathay Pacific due to the protests in Hong Kong that spilled over into Hong Kong International Airport, the Skytrax rated five-star airline is still viewed to be one of the best in the world. The airline was among the first to take delivery of Airbus’ newest aircraft, the Airbus A350-1000 XWB, and is now one of its largest operators, according to planespotters.net fleet data.
8. Alaska Airlines
- Bruce Bennett/Getty
Alaska Airlines is one of the largest American operators of the Boeing 737 family of aircraft, rated as one of the safest in the sky.
Once operating an all-Boeing mainline fleet, the Seattle-based airline acquired a fleet of Airbus A320 family following its acquisition of Virgin America, which share a similar safety record, according to Boeing’s 2017 statistical summary of commercial jet airplane accidents.
7. Emirates Airline
- Christopher Pike/Reuters
Emirates recently placed orders for some of Airbus and Boeing’s aircraft at the 2019 Dubai Airshow including the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and Airbus A350-900 XWB.
The carrier is also the world’s largest operator of the Airbus A380, keeping the program alive until 2021 when the final A380 will be delivered to Emirates.
6. Singapore Airlines
- REUTERS/Tim Chong
Singapore Airlines is the operator of the world’s current longest flight between Singapore and Newark using a specially-configured Airbus A350-900 XWB.
Its onboard premium cabins and its hub airport, Singapore’s Changi Airport, are known for their extravagance. The airport features an indoor waterfall in a bio-dome-like section known as the Jewel.
5. Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways operates one of the world’s most modern fleets with the carrier seeming to place an order for nearly every new aircraft type. In addition to being the launch operator of the Airbus A350-1000 XWB, the airline recently took delivery of its first four Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
Passengers connecting through the airline’s hub in Doha can also take advantage of the airline’s stopover program which includes complimentary city tours. Its main airport, Hamad International Airport, recently announced an expansion project to increase the airport’s capacity, despite being built and opened only in the past decade.
- Nicolas Economou/Getty
One of the Middle East’s big three carriers, state-owned Etihad Airways is still financially struggling and is reevaluating its business structure, the airline’s CEO told Reuters. The airline had planned to take delivery of new Airbus A350-1000 XWB aircraft, Reuters reported, but deferred delivery of the new type to an unspecified date.
The aircraft had been assembled and painted in Etihad’s livery, only to be sent to storage in Bordeaux, France. Etihad had taken delivery of new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft assembled by Boeing’s South Carolina plant, which it flies to destinations such as Rome, Italy, and Beijing, China.
3. EVA Air
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The Tapei-based carrier is one of the first operators of Boeing’s largest 787 variant, the 787-10 Dreamliner, and was one of the first airlines to feature a premium economy class, according to its website. Its long-haul fleet consists primarily of widebody Boeing aircraft with its former flagships the Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 747-400.
2. Air New Zealand
- Fabrizio Gandolfo/Getty
Air New Zealand’s long-haul fleet has been engaged in fleet renewal for its long-haul that focuses on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, one of Boeing’s newest aircraft. In a 2018 report, Boeing reported the aircraft as having no fatal accidents though the aircraft has been plagued by battery and engine issues.
The airline currently flies the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner between Auckland and Chicago, the airline’s longest and the deepest route into North America from an Oceanic country.
- Daniel Munoz/Reuters
The airline was referred to by Airline Ratings in 2019 as having “amassed an amazing record of firsts in operations and safety and is now accepted as the industry’s most experienced airline.”
The airline has never had a fatal crash, though that badge of honor was nearly jeopardized when an Airbus A380 flying from Singapore to Sydney suffered an uncontained engine failure.