Travel | January 5, 2022 12:15 pm

The World’s Safest Airline Is Also One You Probably Won’t Fly in 2022

Air New Zealand topped the annual AirlineRatings list, thanks to a combination of new safety measures and enhanced COVID-19 protocols

A photo taken on August 9, 2021 shows an Air New Zealand plane taking off from Auckland Airport. The airline recently was crowned the world's safest airline.
An Air New Zealand plane taking off from Auckland Airport
William West/AFP via Getty Images

Air New Zealand is the world’s safest airline, according to, an airline safety, product and COVID-19 rating website.

To determine the annual rankings — which Australia’s Qantas had won eight years in a row (with one year a tie) — AirlineRatings looks at the airline’s crash record over five years and serious incident record over two years, audits from aviation’s governing and industry bodies, government audits, industry-leading safety initiatives, fleet age and, importantly, COVID-19 safety protocols. AirlineRatings was launched in June 2013 and rates the safety and in-flight product of 385 airlines using a seven-star rating system.

According to the site, Air New Zealand took home top honors in 2022 because it operates in challenging weather conditions and in a remote environment; as well, the airline has shown technical innovation and operates a fairly young fleet (average aircraft age is 6.8 years). Plus, they’ve been ahead of the game as far as dealing with the pandemic.

“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,” as Air New Zealand’s chief executive Greg Foran said in a statement. “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.”

That said, the list of current requirements for flying to or from New Zealand means that few people, for now, will be utilizing the airline on this side of the world.

The good news for fliers: Within the top 20 safest list, there is “very little” difference, according to Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas. “They are all standouts,” he says.

That said, here are some interesting notes about those safest airlines:

  • Former no. 1 Qantas, now in seventh, lost the top spot due to an incident at Perth Airport that dates back to 2018 that involved a near collision on the runway (a report on the incident was not delivered until a few years later).
  • The American-based airlines that made the top 20 include Alaska Airlines (highest at #8), Hawaiian Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.
  • The safest low-cost airlines, in alphabetical order: Allegiant, easyjet, Frontier, Jetstar Group, Jetblue, Ryanair, Vietjet, Volaris, Westjet and Wizz.