Three Middle Eastern airlines have been named among the top ten safest in the world in 2013, according to industry website AirlineRatings.com.
The international safety and product rating website monitored 448 airlines last year, with a team of eight editors from around the globe taking into account audits from aviation governing bodies and lead associations as well as government audits and the airline’s fatality record.
Of the 137 airlines to achieve the highest seven-star rating, Emirates was ranked third overall, with Etihad ranked fourth. Royal Jordanian was ranked tenth.
It comes as Emirates also picked up three major awards at the AirlineRatings.com Airline Excellence Awards in New Zealand on Monday night for Best First Class, Best In-flight Entertainment and Best Long Haul Airline based in the Middle East and Africa.
Australian national carrier Qantas topped the safest airline list with a fatality-free record since the jet era began around 1951.
AirlineRatings.com editor Geoffrey Thomas said the results for the Middle Eastern airlines was testament to their business approach.
“Middle East airlines such as Emirates and Etihad have been very astute and employed the best of the best across the board whether it be airline network, operational or engineering people or the best pilots,” Thomas told Arabian Business.
He said because of their focus on excellence those airlines have also looked to the best, such as Qantas, and aimed to match the airline or do better.
“They know what works, they know what doesn’t, they’ve offered very attractive packages to the right people and they’ve got on board what is arguably the cream of the cream of pilots and the results are there,” he said.
Royal Jordanian president and CEO Amer Hadidi said it was proud of what he described as a prestigious international ranking in such a priority area of operations.
“This reflects the effectiveness of RJ’s employees, the airline’s keenness to apply the highest safety standards in the air and on the ground, and to provide its passengers with distinguished services,” he said.
The website noted that almost 50 airlines had just three stars or less. Among the airlines with two stars was Daallo Airlines, which says it is headquartered in the Dubai Free Zone and operates passenger, cargo, chartered and mail services to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
However, Thomas said AirlineRatings.com counted the airline’s main hub and centre of operations as Djibouti–Ambouli International Airport.
Other airlines to rate poorly were national carriers Afghan Airways and Eritrean Airlines, Indonesian operators Lion Air, Merpati Airlines and Susi Air and Burmese airline Air Bagan.
The lowest ranked airlines with one star, according to the website, were Kam Air (Afghanistan), Scat (Kazakhstan) and Bluewing Airlines (Caribbean).
AirlineRatings.com, a joint venture between Australian media company Seven West Media and Technical Publications International, said 2013 was the safest for flying since 1945, with only 269 deaths from 29 accidents.
According to the Aviation Safety Network the results were well below the 10-year average of 32 accidents and 719 fatalities.
The worst accident was the November crash of a Tatarstan Boeing 737-500 from Moscow to Kazan, which killed all 44 passengers and six crew aboard.
However, it said the most miraculous escape was for the 304 passengers and crew who walked away from an Asiana Boeing 777 crash at San Francisco International Airport in July.
At the Airline Excellence Awards, Air New Zealand was named Airline of the Year for 2014 in honour of its in-flight innovations, financial performance, operational safety and motivation of its staff that have stamped the airline an industry trendsetter.
Thomas said Emirates’ win of three major awards was no surprise, noting it had been at the forefront on the airline industry for the past ten years.
He said its First Class product set a new industry benchmark, as did its in-flight entertainment.
“The AirlineRating.com editors praised the airline’s overall long-haul product and the fact that the airline has established and then perfected the Middle East hub to the world model,” he said.