Aeroflot, the flag carrier of the Russian Federation, has a dreadful reputation for being unsafe. And it deserves it: The Aircraft Crashes Record Office, a non-government organization based in Switzerland, says that as of May 2010, 8,231 passengers have died in Aeroflot crashes.
That's a lot. Air France comes a distant second, with 1,783 fatalities, followed by the defunct Pan Am (1,645), then American (1,442), and United (1,211).
But that's also in the past. There have been no Aeroflot crashes since then.
The website AirlineRatings.com, which appraises airlines according to criteria including adherence to international safety certification and recent fatalities, now has attained a ranking of seven stars—the highest ranking possible, and identical to most of the world's best carriers, including the big ones in the United States.
Why the dramatic improvement? Credit a fleet of newer jets, closer attention to maintenance, a more stable national economic system, and pressure from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Which means it's time to reformulate your assumption about the worst airline in the world. We'll have to find another one to use as a punch line.
May we suggest Kazakhstan's unfortunately named Scat, which ranks a 3?
Or better yet, our own Spirit Airlines, which only rates a 5?