While European and American airlines rarely feature in the top 10 rankings for best customer service, airlines from these regions have dominated a new list of the world's safest carriers.
A report by the Air Transport Rating Agency (ATRA), released yesterday, found that the safest carriers in the world were mainly those based in Europe and the US.
No Australian airlines featured in the top 10. Air France-KLM, British Airways and Lufthansa are the safest airlines in Europe.
The safest US-based airlines are AMR Corporation, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways, while the safest from Asia is Japan Airlines, it said, without giving a ranking within the top ten.
To obtain this classification, the first of its kind, ATRA examined publicly available information on 15 criteria, such as the average age of the aircraft used or the homogeneity of the fleet, it said.
The agency explained that to understand airline safety, one needed not only to look at accident figures, but also "technical, human, organisational and external" elements.
"Even though the European Union publishes a 'blacklist' of dangerous airlines, there exists a real difference in safety between the other airline companies," ATRA added.
The agency believed the EU's list was a good start on rating airline safety, but said the list led to the belief that all airlines not on the 'blacklist' offered the same level of safety, which was not the case.
According to its website, the Geneva-based agency says it is independent of all "airlines, manufacturers, regulatory authorities, trade unions and not-for-profit organisations" in performing its aviation risk assessment.
The top 10 list is in contrast to the annual Skytrax survey that ranks airlines based on customer service. None of the airlines in the Skytrax top 10 made the ATRA's top 10 safety list.
World's 10 safest airlines (in alphabetical order)
- Air France-KLM
- AMR Corporation (American Airlines, American Eagles)
- British Airways
- Continental Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- US Airways