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Are Asian low-cost carriers safe?

A deadly plane crash in Phuket, Thailand, over the weekend raises questions about the safety of the burgeoning number of new low-cost carriers cropping up in Asia, according to AP report published in the International Herald Tribune today. This recent accident involving the Thai low-cost airline One-Two-Go Airlines is just one in a series of Asian airline mishaps that have resulted in the deaths of more than 120 people so far this year.

The airline industry in Asia has expanded rapidly, with more than 50 low-cost airlines starting up recently. Sources in the article say many of these airlines have struggled to find enough trained pilots and other airline personnel. Plus, the government in Indonesia, where most of recent accidents have occurred, has been unable to keep up with airline oversight, says another source. Other experts are concerned similar problems may occur in China and India, where airline growth has also been enormous.

Tom Ballantyne, the chief correspondent for Orient Aviation magazine, recommends in the article that passengers research airlines carefully before booking, looking into past safety issues and the age of the airplanes being flown. He suggests flying low-cost Asian carriers such as Jetstar and Tiger Airlines, which are connected to established mainstream lines (in this case Qantas and Singapore Airlines, respectively.)

Editor’s note: This blog was updated on September 20 with factual corrections. One-Two-Go Airlines is Thai, not Indonesian, and airline expansion in China has been largely due to growth in the industry as a whole, not in low-cost carriers.

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