AirAsia lags rivals on safety scores in aviation site’s ratings

A section of the tail of AirAsia QZ8501 passenger plane is lifted off a ship and onto the back of a truck, the day after it was lifted from the seabed, in Kumai Port, near Pangkalan Bun, central Kalimantan January 11, 2015. — Reuters pic
A section of the tail of AirAsia QZ8501 passenger plane is lifted off a ship and onto the back of a truck, the day after it was lifted from the seabed, in Kumai Port, near Pangkalan Bun, central Kalimantan January 11, 2015. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 — AirAsia’s operations have been given safety scores that are below par for regional low-cost airlines by aviation website airlinerankings.com.

AirAsia’s units in Malaysia and Thailand both scored four out of a possible seven stars, while its Philippines-based Zest operations was rated three stars.

Indonesia AirAsia, which recently lost Flight QZ8501, was rated two stars.

Malaysia Airlines, which suffered unprecedented twin air disasters last year, scored higher than average with a five out of a possible seven star safety rating, and 6.5 out of seven in the product rating.

AirlineRatings.com editor-in-chief Geoffrey Thomas said that the AirAsia Group, which was the first to bring budget travel to Asia, was initially rated five stars for safety, but was penalised as it did not participate in a global agency’s safety audit.

“Up to December 28, the airline group had operated without a fatality but it has not completed the International Air Transport Association’s Operational Safety Audit.

“Airlines that have done the IOSA have a 4.3 times better safety record than ones that have not. However, that is not to say AirAsia is 4.3 times less safe than other IOSA airlines — the ratio is distorted by the big number of Third World airlines with terrible crash records that have also ignored the audit,” said Thomas.

The audit is an internationally recognised evaluation designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline.

The website listed the top ten safest airlines for 2015 from the 449 it monitors as Qantas, followed by Air New Zealand, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Finnair, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.

The top ten safest low-cost airlines were Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines, Icelandair, Jetblue, Jetstar, Kulula.com, Monarch Airlines, Thomas Cook, TUI Fly and Westjet.

Of the 449 airlines surveyed, 149 have the maximum seven-star safety ranking, but almost 50 have just three stars or fewer. Four airlines only achieved one-star ratings for safety: Kam Air, Nepal Airlines, Scat and Tara Air.

MAS’s Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board and remains missing till today. Another plane, Flight MH17, was shot down over Eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 who had been flying from Amsterdam to Malaysia.

Just before the year ended, Flight QZ8501 en route from Surabaya to Singapore crashed into the ocean, killing all 162 people on board. It was AirAsia Group’s first fatal accident.

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