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An adventure in flying: The 16 least-safe airlines

As more people travel to exotic destinations, and as more developing countries increase air travel, safety ratings are a concern. (Photo: Seth Wenig/Associated Press)
As more people travel to exotic destinations, and as more developing countries increase air travel, safety ratings are a concern. (Photo: Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

Recently, we told you about the top 30 safest airlines, according to data from, a website that rates all airlines around the world for safety and product offerings.

This week, we’ll take a look at the 16 airlines that made the bottom of the list, receiving only one or two stars.

In addition to helping underwriters of Aviation insurance understand the risk of covering these airlines, business travelers can have a better idea of what to expect when they travel on these carriers.

It’s important to note that there are differences between low-cost, regional and full-service carriers, and the editors take those differences into account when rating the airlines. In some cases, an airline will fit within multiple categories. In those situations, an executive decision is made by the editors as to where the airline best fits or the category may be requested by the airline itself.

If you’ve flown on any of these airlines, please share your experience and thoughts with us in the comment section.


(Photo: Associated Press)

Here are the definitions that uses:

Regional airlines act as feeders to major airlines connecting regional centers to main hubs, and they also link smaller centers to each other. These airlines typically operate turbo-prop or single-aisle regional jets on short routes (typically less than three hours). Because of the short flight times, passengers on regionals are generally not served a meal or snacks, and they may only receive limited beverage service. In-flight entertainment is also rare. They’re similar to low-cost airlines. However, many regional airlines are subsidiaries of full-service airlines, and allow premium passengers access to the full-service carrier lounges. For example: American Eagle and American Airlines.

Low-cost carriers typically do not have passenger lounges, business or first-class cabins, and are seldom part of an alliance. These carriers offer a lower level of service than full-service carriers, and generally work on a point-to-point route network. The provision of passenger comforts such as meals, blankets, pillows and in-flight entertainment is low, variable or nonexistent, and if available, usually needs to be purchased. Low-cost carriers typically operate one or two aircraft types, and rarely transfer baggage from one flight to another. They may also charge for seat selection and have higher fees for checked bags.

Full-service airlines usually offer passengers in-flight entertainment, checked baggage, meals, beverages and comforts such as blankets and pillows in the ticket price. The seats generally recline more than a low-cost carrier, and they may also have more leg room. Full-service airlines offer passengers the choice of economy or business-class travel and, on some flights, first class. The airlines in this category will transfer baggage between flights and to partners that are part of the same alliance. For example, SkyTeam, Oneworld and Star Alliance. Full-service airlines often have a long history and are the flag carrier for their country of origin.


(Photo: PNG Air website)

And the 16 winners at the bottom are …

Many of the airlines with the lowest ratings are in developing countries, and if you travel there, you might not have a choice of carrier. But at least you’ll know what to expect. Here’s a look at the lowest 16 on’s list, in alphabetical order within each ratings category:

Rating: Two stars (second to last)

Airlines of Papua New Guinea, also known as PNG Air (Papua New Guinea, regional)

Airlines PNG is is a regional carrier based in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. It also operates seven-day-a-week charter services for medivac, work-crew positioning and parts transportation, in addition to its regularly scheduled passenger services.

Ariana Afghan Airlines (Afghanistan, full service)

Ariana Afghan Airlines is the largest airline in Afghanistan and serves as the country’s national carrier. Founded in 1955, Ariana also is the oldest airline of Afghanistan.


(Photo: Blue Wing Airlines website)

Blue Wing (Suriname, regional)

Founded in 2002, Blue Wing Airlines is primarily known for flight connections within the Caribbean.

Daallo Airlines (Djibouti, regional)

Daallo Airlines is the national carrier for Republic of Djibouti, and serves the East Africa region with flights to the Middle East. The company has significant dominance in the passenger traffic to and from these countries.

Daallo Airlines began operations in 1991 using a single Cessna Caravan operating from Djibouti to Hargeisa, Somalia, after the demise of Somali Airlines following the civil war in Somalia.


(Photo: Nok Air website)

Kam Air (Afghanistan, regional)

Founded in 2003, Kam Air is Afghanistan’s regional carrier and also provides charter flights.

Nok Air (Thailand, low cost)

Nok Air is a low-cost airline registered under Nok Airlines Public Co. Ltd. It was started in 2004 as Sky Asia Co.Ltd., a joint venture between public and private investors. 


(Photo: Citilink website)

Rating: One star (at the bottom of the list)

All the airlines in this category are from Indonesia or Nepal.

Batik Air (Indonesia, full service)

This full-service airline was launched in May 2013 by low-cost carrier Lion Air. Batik has domestic and international flights.

Citilink (Indonesia, low cost)

Citilink provides a low-cost airline services to a variety of destinations in Indonesia. It’s a “dynamic concept” of Garuda Indonesia Airways, the national airline of Indonesia, according to its website.


(Photo: Associated Press)

KalStar Aviation (Indonesia, regional)

The airline was founded as Kalstar Tour-Travel Co. Ltd. in December 1993, flying primarily charter flights. In November 2007, Kal Star Aviation was licensed by the Indonesian government as a scheduled airline, and now flies 95 domestic routes and 22 regional routes.

Lion Air (Indonesia, low cost)

The airline started in 2000 with one aircraft as its fleet. As the largest private carrier in Indonesia, it now flies to more than 36 cities in Indonesia and many other destinations, such as Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.


Nepal Airlines (Nepal, full service)

Nepal Airlines Corp. was incorporated on July 1, 1958, to provide air transport service within, as well as outside, the country. It’s the national airline of Nepal.

Sriwijaya Air and Nam Air (Indonesia, regional)

Established in 2003, Sriwijaya Air, a domestic airline in Indonesia, carries more than 800,000 passengers a month to 43 destinations in three regional countries.

Nam Air is a full-service carrier operated by Sriwijaya Air, founded in 2013.

Nepal-Everest-Airport-AP_344910471817-Niranjan Shrestha

A Tara Air plane lands at Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla, Nepal, near Mount Everest. The airport, carved out of the side of a mountain, was built by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1965, and at an altitude of 9,325 feet, it has earned the reputation of being one of the most extreme and dangerous airports in the world. (Photo: Associated Press)

Tara Air (Nepal, regional)

Tara Air provides airline service in the Himalayas. The company’s mission is to help develop rural Nepal, and it concentrates its service in the hills and mountains of the country.

TransNusa (Indonesia, regional)

TransNusa, also operated by Sriwijaya Air, is an Indonesian domestic airline serving the east of Indonesia. It was founded in 2005.

Indonesia-Shoreline-After-Tsunami-2005-AP_05010103803-Dudi Anung

(Photo: Dudi Anung/Associated Press)

Wings Air (Indonesia, regional)

Wings Air, a subsidiary of Lion Air, started operations in 2003. It’s a scheduled commuter passenger airline based in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Xpress Air (Indonesia, regional)

Xpress Air is a domestic airline that offers direct flights to the eastern parts of Indonesia, with its first flight in 2005. In 2014, the airline began international service with flights to Malaysia.

See the full report at

Related: Leaving on a jet plane? Here are the top 20 safest airlines for 2016

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