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Last Updated: Monday, 15 August 2005, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Safety 'top' on low-cost airlines
Simon Calder
The travel expert said the Boeing 737 has a good safety record
Travellers using no-frills airlines are being reassured about their safety record in the wake of the crash of a Cypriot airliner.

All 121 passengers and crew on the flight by low-cost carrier Helios died when it hit a hill near Athens after an apparent drop in cabin pressure.

Travel expert Simon Calder said using cheaper airlines did not appear to be more risky.

Safety was a "top priority" for the low-cost airlines, he added.

The Helios Boeing 737 plane, carrying 115 passengers and six crew, came down at 1220 local time (0920 GMT) on Sunday.

Fantastically safe

Mr Calder, travel expert from BBC One's Departure Lounge, said passengers who were worried about using low-cost carriers needed to keep things in perspective.

I haven't been able to detect any correlation between low-cost carriers and enhanced risks
Simon Calder

"The two leading no-frills airlines in Europe - Ryanair and Easyjet - have completely flawless safety reputations as does the biggest, oldest and most successful no-frills airline in the world," he told the BBC.

"That is South West of the United States which has flown the Boeing 737 - the same aircraft that crashed [on Sunday] - more than 12 million times without any fatal accidents."

He said the low-cost airlines were just as interested in safety as other companies.

"I haven't been able to detect any correlation between low-cost carriers and enhanced risks from flying," he said.

Mr Calder said statistically air travel was "fantastically safe" and said the Boeing 737 had proved itself to be the "most successful passenger jet ever flown".

Helios was bought by UK and Cyprus-registered tour operator Libra Holidays Group in 2004.

Its fleet of Boeing 737s operates scheduled flights from Cyprus to airports including Luton, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Newcastle, Nottingham, Belfast.

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