Miami – Skytrax, which rates airlines and airports around the globe, has introduced a new branch: the Covid-19 Airline Safety Ratings. The rating analyzes carriers’ policies regarding procedures taken to stop the spread of COVID-19.

According to, the first airlines to receive the new rating are British Airways (BA) and Lufthansa (LH). Both airlines received a four-star rating (out of a potential five stars). BA’s rating is based on its operations at Heathrow (LHR) Terminal Five. Lufthansa was judged on flights from Terminal 1 at Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

Skytrax assessed the airlines on the effectiveness and consistency of the hygiene and safety measures put in place. It also assesses potential risk to passengers across the airport and cabin environment. While the company has been criticized for being in cahoots with airlines when it comes to rating them, this safety rating deals with a matter too severe to succumb to such folly.

British Airways Boeing 777-200ER G-VIIP. Photo: Aaron Davis

Skytrax Saw the Need

“After seeing some spurious ratings of airline Covid-19 standards, based on little more than reading an airline’s Covid-19 policies, we saw the need to introduce some reality into providing Covid-19 ratings based on the actual airline travel experience and assessment,” says Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax.  

“Airlines are in the midst of the most challenging time in their history. Encouraging customers back onto flights involves changes to PCR testing, quarantine, and country travel policies. It also involves demonstrating the necessary level of assurance for their COVID-19 measures through independent and professional assessment.  

“We congratulate British Airways and Lufthansa on achieving this commendable four-star Covid-19 Rating.”

Lufthansa Airbus A321-131 [D-AIRY] | Photo: © Nick Van Der Hook

High Standards to Earn Ratings

To attain four stars, an airline must achieve a high standard of cleanliness onboard its aircraft. Testing uses techniques such as UV sanitization and mass disinfectant treatments. Onboard catering should be adapted, too, with reduced contact delivery and enhanced food safety measures.

In the airport areas manned by the airline, contactless technology and enforcement of social distancing during check-in, boarding, and on arrival help to earn a higher rating.

As part of its audit, Skytrax uses ATP testing, a process of rapidly measuring actively growing microorganisms, to measure contamination on high-touch surfaces in the airport and the aircraft cabin. Additionally, the company consulted the IATA Health Safety Standards Checklist and the ICAO CART Take-off guidance and recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to come up with its own checklist and safety rating system.

Hampered somewhat by current travel restrictions, Skytrax plans to first roll-out its airline safety ratings across European carriers. Later it will move its attention airlines in the Middle East and South America. Finally it will start assessments in Asia and North America late this year.

Featured image: British Airways’ first Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrives at London Heathrow on 27 June 2013. Photo: Jeff Garrish/British Airways