AirAsia Zest, Cebu Pacific Air among least safe airlines

AirAsia Zest and Cebu Pacific Air from the Philippines are among the least safe airlines that fly to and from Korea, government data showed Sunday.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) released safety-related information of 70 carriers from 32 countries that operate in Korea Sunday.

“We are considering legislation that limits airlines (identified as unsafe by international authorities) from starting new operations in Korea. If those already flying to and from Korea do not improve their safety in two years, the legislation may ban their flights,” the ministry said.

In 2013, airlines recognized for punctuality ― based on the portion of delays and cancelled flights due to maintenance ― included All Nippon Airways, AirAsia, Emirates Airline, Mandarin Airlines and SAT Airlines.

The least punctual airlines were Air Canada, American Airlines, Air Caledonie, Delta Air Lines and Etihad Airways. For Air Canada, eight out of its 357 flights were cancelled or delayed for more than an hour.

In 2013, 48 carriers from 25 countries were involved in fatal accidents, of which three of them ― Asiana Airlines, Lao Airlines and UPS ― operate in Korea.

The ministry’s safety guideline is a compilation of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) “Significant Safety Concerns” states; the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) assessment of aviation authorities; the list of airlines banned within the European Union (EU); frequency of delays and cancellation of flights due to maintenance; and the number fatal accidents by airline in 2013.

The ICAO’s “significant safety concern” does not directly address each airline’s safety deficiency but a country’s lack of safety oversight.

The 13 significant safety concern states include Lebanon, Malawi, Botswana, Sao Tome and Principe, Haiti, Angola, Eritrea, Papua New Guinea, Georgia, Djibouti, Kazakhstan, Congo and Nepal.

The U.S. FAA assesses aviation authorities responsible for overseeing their countries’ carriers. The countries with a “Category 2” rating cannot launch new services in the U.S. and the FAA does not support reciprocal code-share arrangements between their airlines and U.S. carriers.

The 11 Category 2 countries are Ghana, Nicaragua, Barbados, Bangladesh, Serbia, Saint Martin, Uruguay, Indonesia, India, Curacao and the Philippines.

The European Commission took a step further by banning unsafe airlines from operating in the airspace of its 28 member states.

Those carriers banned by the EU but operate in Korea include Air Asia Zest and Cebu Pacific Air of the Philippines and Air Bishkek of Kyrgyzstan.

The airlines that are included in one of the three lists and fly to and from Korea are Garuda Indonesia, Air Astana of Kazakhstan, Air Bishkek of Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines Air, Cebu Pacific Air and AirAsia Zest of the Philippines and Air India. Cebu Pacific and AirAsia Zest are named in more than one list.