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Alps crash horror: Are low-cost airlines skimping on safety? Is flying getting more dangerous?

By Staff Reporter

Q. Are low-cost airlines less safe than "full-service" carriers?

A. No. European airlines - both traditional carriers such as Lufthansa, Air France or British Airways, and no-frills operators such as easyJet or Ryanair - never skimp on safety. Rigorous safety standards are imposed equally across all airlines. Germanwings has exactly the same high standards as its parent, Lufthansa, whose safety record is formidable. Lufthansa is Europe's biggest airline.

Q. Does Germanwings have a good reputation for safety?

A. The last incident Lufthansa suffered was on the runway at Warsaw airport in 1993, in which a crew member and a passenger died. Among the other very large European airlines, only British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair have better safety records than the German carrier.

Q. This is the second Airbus A320 crash in three months. Is the craft flawed?

A. No. Since the A320 entered service in 1988, it has flown 80 million flights, carrying one billion passengers. The type has suffered 11 fatal accidents. That is an average of one calamity every two-and-a-half years. Six have happened in the past nine years, a rate of one every one-and-a-half years, but statistically that is to be expected because so many more of the jets are flying.

Q. Is flying getting more dangerous?

A. No. In fact, it is extraordinarily safe. This year around 3.5 billion passenger journeys will be made. If the death rate of previous years continues in 2015, about 1,000 people will die - most of them, sadly, on airlines in the developing world where safety standards are less rigorous. In 2015 it is likely that 1.2 million people will die on the roads worldwide.

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