Ethiopia seems to be an impoverished country surrounded by rugged terrain. Yet the record of its national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, over seven decades of operation are only three fatal events, one of them a hijacking—is exceptional. Ethiopian Airlines is one of the proudest, and arguably one of the safest airlines in the world.
The region of the world with the worst reputation by far is sub-Saharan Africa, where scores of small companies operate without anywhere near the oversight or resources of airlines in the west. But even then the statistics can be misleading. It’s important to make the distinction between mainline African carriers and lower-tier cargo and nonscheduled operators. Flying on South African Airways or Ethiopian Airlines, for example, which have perfectly respectable records, is not the same as flying aboard some ad-hoc Congolese cargo runner or a Guinean charter outfit. Africa’s “dangerous” airlines are not even airlines as most people think of them.