Is it Safe to Fly in Asia?

When I was in Asia I often paid for an overnight train rather than fly in a rickety plane. My guidebook advised that Laos Airlines had one of the worst safety records in the world, and there was no way I was taking any chances on an airline with a bad reputation. And reading the news lately, I’m glad I opted for the slower alternative. reports that pilot shortages, a string of crashes, and air traffic growth are raising concerns about the safety of flying in Asia. More than 50 budget airlines have popped up around the continent, and if you’re thinking about flying on one you should do some homework.

Tom Ballantyne, chief corespondent for Orient Aviation magazine, suggests that potential passengers research safety issues and accidents for both the budget airline and its parent company. For example, the One-Two-Go flight that crashed and killed 88 passengers last week on Phuket, Thailand is connected to Orient-Thai Airlines — a company that has been cited for outdated safety manuals and once almost hit a tower in Tokyo. Ballantyne also recommends checking out what kind of planes the airline operates — are they new or old?

Indonesia has had the most problems. The report cites the lure of higher-paying jobs for pilots in the Middle East and other parts of Asia, as well as a shortfall of trained flight-deck personnel.

It’s enough to keep this girl on the road, that’s for sure.