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Qantas loses its coveted ranking as the world’s safest airline for the first time in eight years

Qantas loses its coveted ranking as the world’s safest airline for the first time in eight years – but you won’t have to look far to find its replacement

  • The past two years have been extremely difficult for airlines due to Covid-19
  • Ranking looked at how airlines are retraining pilots before return to service 
  • Two Australian airlines make top 10, out of 385 carriers across the globe rated 


Qantas has lost its title as the world’s safest airline for the first time since 2013 due to Covid pilot losses and a ‘serious incident’. 

Australia’s flagship airline had a sharp drop in Airline Ratings’ annual safest airline list down to seventh place, and was replaced at the top by Air New Zealand.

Qantas was ranked the world’s safest airline from 2014 to 2017 and 2019 to 2021, and no clear winner could be found in 2018. 

Air New Zealand (plane pictured on ground) has overtaken Qantas (plane pictured taking off) as the world’s safest airline in the rankings of the Airline Ratings website

Air New Zealand was followed by two Middle Eastern airlines, Etihad and Qatar.  Virgin Australia/Virgin Atlantic is ranked number 10. 

Airline Ratings looks at 385 carriers across world, measuring factors including the airlines’ crash and serious incident records, the age of their aircraft, and Covid-19 protocols.

Air New Zealand was awarded this year’s top spot ‘due to its excellent incident record, number of cockpit innovations, pilot training and very low fleet age’, said Geoffrey Thomas, editor-in-chief of the airline safety and product review website.  

The average Air New Zealand aircraft age is just 6.8 years and it has been at the forefront of technical safety improvements.

These include the Future Air Navigation System for pilot to ground communication and Required Navigation Performance for precision approaches around mountains in cloud conditions. 

An Air New Zealand flight attendant (pictured) makes her way through the cabin prior to disembarking from flight number 246 on April 19, 2021 in Wellington, New Zealand

An Air New Zealand flight attendant (pictured) makes her way through the cabin prior to disembarking from flight number 246 on April 19, 2021 in Wellington, New Zealand

A Qantas staff flight attendant wearing a face mask as she talk to a passenger onboard Qantas flight QF143 bound for Auckland at Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport on April 19, 2021

A Qantas staff flight attendant wearing a face mask as she talk to a passenger onboard Qantas flight QF143 bound for Auckland at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport on April 19, 2021

‘Air New Zealand has excelled across the broad safety spectrum never losing sight of the smallest detail while caring for its flight crews who have worked under significant stress,’ Mr Thomas said. 

Airline Ratings said Qantas dropped down the list due to a 2018 incident at Perth Airport, which led to an Australian Safety Transport Bureau investigation that was completed in 2020.

The ATSB found complex issues resulted in a Qantas aircraft landing and taxiing towards a different runway where another Qantas plane was preparing to take off.

AirlineRatings.com’s safest airlines for 2022 

1 Air New Zealand

2 Etihad Airways

3 Qatar Airways

4 Singapore Airlines

5 TAP Air Portugal

6 SAS

7 Qantas

8 Alaska Airlines

9 EVA Air

10 Virgin Australia/Virgin Atlantic

Source: airlineratings.com 

Air traffic control and the plane’s crew became aware and stopped just before crossing onto the second runway.

The report into that incident was not issued until late 2020, too late to be included in the 2021 safety rankings. 

‘The last two years have been extremely difficult for airlines with Covid-19 slashing travel and Airline Ratings editors have particularly focused on the lengths airlines are undertaking to retrain pilots ahead of a return to service,’ Mr Thomas said.

‘Air New Zealand is a leader in this field with comprehensive retraining.’

Air New Zealand’s chief executive Greg Foran said the airline was ‘humbled’ to receive the recognition.

‘We’re in good company and a big congratulations to all airlines on the list,’ he said.

‘The Air New Zealand promise is to take manaaki (care) further. To do that we have to take our approach to safety further. For us, it’s not about safety first – it’s about safety always. We want everyone to go home safely every day.

‘Throughout the pandemic, the whole Air New Zealand team has been focused on protecting the health and safety of our people, customers, and the wider New Zealand community.

‘We were the first airline in the world to ask our customers flying on our domestic services to either be vaccinated or tested before boarding and come 1 February, will require all customers on our international services to be fully vaccinated too.’

Daily Mail Australia contacted Qantas for comment on its rating drop.  

Middle Eastern carrier Etihad Airways is ranked the second safest airline in the world in 2022, according to the airlineratings.com website

Middle Eastern carrier Etihad Airways is ranked the second safest airline in the world in 2022, according to the airlineratings.com website

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