Airline Travel in the Corporate World
Having seen and lived all sides of the airline industry over the last 28 years whilst being married to a long haul Captain at British Airways, I’ve heard a lot . People in general often seem misguided or have skewed opinions on airline safety purely through a misunderstanding. Hopefully my insider knowledge may serve to enlighten some on how these amazing feats of engineering carry us around the world safely.
At Shinesmith our team are fortunate to be travelling a lot in their roles, from Singapore to Vegas, Moscow to Cape Town and across all of Europe.
Should we dictate the airlines we prefer to use? Are some safer than others?
Well; first we must look at the facts and the industries reviews and regulations.
All airlines, dependant on the air space in which they fly, must conform to the regulations of that country, for example in the UK the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA ) will regulate all airlines that fly in and out of Heathrow and other UK airports; or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA ) throughout the USA .
The measurement of safety is based on factors such as previous incidents, average age of the airlines fleets and audits from governments and the aviation industry’s regulatory bodies. The website AirlineRatings.com makes annual assessments based on this criteria.
It is also important to note that incidents include such things as an unlatched engine cover as in the case of a British Airways Airbus A319 on the 24th May 2013, where no fatalities were reported and the AAIB (Air Accident Investigation Branch) reported that exhausted ground engineers had repaired the wrong aircraft. The report is not just based on heavily reported incidents like MH370; it creates a point score based on every technical report.
It is also true that ‘mud sticks’; remember how the Suzuki Jeeps kept rolling over and Skoda were the cars of ridicule? Not any more.
A series of incidents involving Aeroflot in the 1970s created an unease associated with the airline.
So why so accident prone?
Its sheer size was a major factor. Aeroflot was once the only airline in operation throughout the whole of the Soviet Union and by the mid-Sixties it was already carrying a remarkable 60 million passengers a year. At the height of the 1970 summer holiday season, it was flying 400,000 passengers a day. By comparison, Pan Am welcomed just 11 million passengers throughout the whole of 1970. Aeroflot’s figures grew yet further to 100 million in 1976, more than the likes of easyJet (81 million in 2017) and Ryanair (130 million in 2017, 40 years later) carry today. Its all-Russian fleet was another factor. The reliability of Russian aircraft can be summed up by the fact that AirlineRatings.com continues to deduct a star for any airline that operates using only Russian built aircraft. Marks are also lost if the airline is not audited by IATA (International Air Transport Association), is not endorsed by the FAA , is on the EU’s blacklist or has had a fatal accident in the last decade.
Today Aeroflot ranks as a 7* airline with the likes of British Airways and Qantas. Its fleets are modern Boeing and Airbus aircraft like its competitors and on speaking to pilots who fly this route, who better to fly into Russian air space than a Russian pilot? Air traffic control use their own language and indeed aviation in Russia uses a metric system based on field elevation (QFE) rather than the commonly used sea elevation (QNH) used in the rest of the world.
So as business travellers, what criteria should we consider?
We all have our own reasons for choosing airlines be it based on price, seat pitch, loyalty programme, schedule, direct route or even food can be deal-breakers (or deal-makers). But some airlines are just better than others when it comes to catering for our business; height or otherwise whether you’re working at 30,000 feet or watching the latest movie.
If we have the luxury (and budget) to choose, then great, but as a company we at Shinesmith put importance on the business model, we consider our clients, the job at hand and ensuring our team arrive refreshed and in good time to carry out a successful job.
Air travel still remains statistically the safest way to travel. Fact.
Donna Shaw – Founder