safest airlines in Middle East and Africa

Network Carriers Fare Better than Low-Cost Carriers in the Regional Safe Travel Score Leaderboard

FEBRUARY 16, 2021: Even as countries inoculate their population with COVID-19 vaccines, resumption of air travel services, particularly international, is still expected to be gradual in 2021. Over the last year, airlines have implemented various initiatives to safeguard passengers and crew in the ‘new normal’. The widespread and varied nature of these initiatives called for industry benchmarking to boost traveler confidence and jumpstart industry recovery.

Launched during the pandemic, Safe Travel Barometer, is a travel technology solution provider, whose tool enables the industry to monitor and benchmark traveler experience and COVID-19 health and safety protocols of more than 2,000 suppliers across 10 industry categories. Specifically, Safe Travel Barometer tracks 32 initiatives across 268 airlines – both full-service and low-cost carriers (LCCs). The basis upon the publicly announced initiatives, airlines are benchmarked on the basis of a Safe Travel Score.

Based on the January 2021 Middle East-Africa regional leaderboard, Qatar Airways inched past Emirates with a Safe Travel Score of 4.3 out of 5.0. This marks the first time that Qatar Airways leads the Middle East & African – and the Global – airline leaderboard. Qatar Airways’ lead is reflective of its initiatives associated with two sub-categories – COVID-19 Safety Protocols (97%) and Traveler Convenience (100%) – which contribute to the Safe Travel Score.

Overall, 10% of the airlines, including full-service and low-cost carriers, assessed in Middle East & Africa achieved a Safe Travel Score of 4.0 and above. Airlines that earned top spots in the region include Emirates (4.3), Etihad Airways (4.1) and Turkish Airlines (4.0). The Middle Eastern airlines are the most progressive carriers in terms of traveler-centric policies and implementation of hygiene initiatives. With the rollout of vaccines and travel bubbles opening up, the region’s position looks a lot more promising.

Safe Travel Score, Middle East-Africa Full-Service Carriers, January 2021

Full-Service Carriers

CountrySafe Travel Score*
(January 2021)

Qatar Airways



Etihad Airways

Turkish AirlinesTurkey



Saudi Arabia3.9

Ethiopian Airlines



Royal JordanianJordan


Oman Air






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Among LCCs, Sharjah-based AirArabia led the charge with a Safe Travel Score of 3.7 in January 2021. None of the Middle East and African LCCs received a rating of 4.0 or higher, and they also faced a month-on-month drop due to comparatively unfriendly traveler convenience and service excellence initiatives. Other LCCs such as Flydubai and Anadolu Jet both achieved 3.5 out of 5, while Flynas from Saudi Arabia and Pegasus of Turkey made the cut on the regional LCC leaderboard with a Safe Travel Score of 3.3 and 3.0, respectively.

Safe Travel Score, Middle East-Africa Low-Cost Carriers, January 2021

Low-Cost Carriers

CountrySafe Travel Score*
(January 2021)

Air Arabia




Anadolu JetTurkey



Saudi Arabia





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Virendra Jain, Co-Founder and CEO, Safe Travel Barometer states, “Middle East’s network airlines pave the way for rest of the world. Their customer centricity is now reaching new heights, with the intent to trial health passports to ensure traveler compliance with respective destination and civil aviation regulations, and also going a step further to inoculate its crew. We believe that health will emerge as the fourth standard of travel, much like passports, visas, and security.”


To know more, check out the Safe Travel Barometer Dashboard for Airlines



  • * Safe Travel Score for airlines is a rating initiative based on an independent assessment of more than 32 initiatives applicable to an air journey, across pre-boarding, boarding and onboard experiences, announced by airlines.
  • Safe Travel Score takes into consideration various initiatives announced by suppliers. These are sub-categorized into the following:
    • COVID-19 Safety Protocols
    • Traveler Convenience
    • Service Excellence
  • Low ratings may not always be reflective of poor initiatives, but also the lack of clear or available information on supplier websites, related official channels.
  • Safe Travel Score should not be associated with the relative physical or psychological safety of the traveler.


About Safe Travel Barometer:

Safe Travel Barometer is a travel technology solution, developed by Safe Travel Technologies. It is the world’s most comprehensive solution of COVID-19 health and safety protocols, and traveler experience initiatives announced by suppliers which influences traveler decisions in the new normal. The coverage includes more than 2,000 companies across 10 industry categories, 100+ parameters, and traveler arrival information on more than 150 destinations.


Safe Travel Technologies is an independent subsidiary of VIDEC, a travel industry advisory and consulting firm.


Visit www.safetravelbarometer.com for more information on Safe Travel Score, explore other travel industry categories, countries of interest, and partnership enquiries.


For more information, please contact:

Mariko Amekodommo

Head – Marketing, Safe Travel Barometer

mariko.amekodommo@safetravelbarometer.com | https://www.safetravelbarometer.com