A list of the safest and most accident prone airlines worldwide has been released. 

The annual rankings reveals that many of the biggest names are in the top 20. 

The website AirlineRatings.com assessed 409 major airlines before delivering its verdict, taking into account previous incidents, the average age of their fleets and audits from governments and the aviation industry's regulatory organisations.

Online website Financial Review reports that for the past four years it has singled out Qantas as the world's safest airline, ahead of a chasing pack of 19 rivals, but this year it listed the Australian flag carrier alongside the rest of the top 20.

Virgin Australia is also at the top table. Others include Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, Emirates, Etihad, KLM and Lufthansa. 

But there are more than 100 airlines - most of which you probably haven't heard of - banned from EU airspace or facing operational restrictions, as they don't meet European safety standards. They include every airline from Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Sudan, as well as dozens from Indonesia.

The 20 safest airlines (in alphabetical order)

Air New Zealand
Alaska Airlines
All Nippon Airways
British Airways
Cathay Pacific Airways
Etihad Airways
Hawaiian Airlines
Japan Airlines
Royal Jordanian Airlines
Scandinavian Airline System
Singapore Airlines
Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Australia


Geoffrey Thomas, AirlineRatings.com's editor-in-chief, said: "Our top 20 safest airlines are always at the forefront of safety innovation, operational excellence and the launching of new more advanced aircraft like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787. 

“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 jet era. But Qantas is not alone. Long established airlines such as Hawaiian and Finnair also have perfect records in the jet era."

The world's least safe airlines

All these just got a single star in the ratings 

Air Koryo, North Korea's flag carrier.

Bluewing Airlines, based in Suriname

Indonesia's Trigana Air Service

Four Nepalese carriers - Buddha Air, Nepal Airlines, Tara Air and Yeti Airlines.

The airlines banned from flying to the EU

Blue Wing Airlines, Suriname
Iran Aseman Airlines, Iran
Iraqi Airways, Iraq
Med-View Airline, Nigeria
Air Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
Avior Airlines, Venezuela

Yet, despite all this flying has never been safer.

According to the Aviation Safety Network which records all air crashes and incidents reported around the world there were just 10 fatal accidents involving commercial flights last year, resulting in 44 deaths. 

This is down from 16 fatal accidents and 302 deaths in 2016.

None of 2017's fatalities involved a commercial passenger jet. Given that around 36.8 million passenger flights took to the sky last year, that works out at just one fatal accident for every 7.36 million departures.

The last fatal accident aboard a commercial passenger jet happened on April 17, 2018, when an engine suffered catastrophic failure shortly before reaching cruising altitude. Debris from the engine smashed one of the windows resulting in the cabin going into rapid decompression. One woman sitting by the window was killed. 

* One of the growing dangers on board aircraft is the number of fires in personal electronic devices such as mobile phones and laptops. 

In the worst case scenario they could spark a blaze which might bring an aircraft down. 

More than 50 airline companies across the world – including some of the biggest and best-known - now carry AvSax fire containment bags to deal with fires in personal electronic devices caused by lithium-ion batteries that power them.

The bag – which won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise this year - has been used 27 times to deal with emergencies since the start of 2017.