Nervous flyers will be relieved to learn that last year was the safest ever in terms of airliner crash fatalities, with only 265 casualties out of roughly 31 million flights throughout the world, compared to a ten-year average of 720 annually. That's the fewest number of fatalities on record. It was also the second-safest year in terms of deadly plane crashes, 29 in 2013, compared to 32 on average. 

The Aviation Safety Network (ASN) reported their findings on flights carrying at least 14 passengers. ASN President Harro Ranter contends that last year was so safe because of stricter industry policies, saying: "Since 1997 the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline, probably for a great deal thanks to the continuing safety-driven efforts by international aviation organizations." 

According to ASN, Africa is the least safe place to fly from — airlines from the continent are responsible for around twenty percent of crashes, despite being the departure site of just three percent of flights. But Russia's Tatarstan Airlines was responsible for the worst crash of 2013, when a Boeing 737 crashed into Kazan, Russia, killing 50 people on impact. 

If you want to feel extra safe while air traveling, and you happen to live in the Southern Hemisphere, you could book a flight with on of AirlineRatings.com top safest airlines: The number-one spot goes to Australia's Qantas. The Australian company is followed by Air New Zealand, Emirates, Etihad, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, EVA Air, All Nippon Airways and Royal Jordanian. The worst airlines, on the other hand, are Afghanistan's Kam Air, Kazakhstan's Scat, and Suriname's Bluewing Airlines. Still most airlines, the ratings group reports, are in the safe range: 

AirlineRatings.com’s rating system takes into account a number of different factors related to audits from aviation’s governing bodies and lead associations as well as government audits and the airline’s fatality record. Of the 448 airlines surveyed 137 have the top seven-star safety ranking, but almost 50 have just three stars or less.

The news is welcome after a spate of freak air travel disaster stories This month, a small plane made an emergency-landing on a New York City highway and just last night a Southwest pilot landed at a completely wrong airport. However, even bad things do happen, the results are often not as bad as they could be or would have been just a few years ago. Last summer's most talked about air accident was a Asiana Airlines flight that crash-landed in San Francisco. Three people died and 180 more were injured, but most people were amazed that the crash was not much worse. There were more than 300 people on board. We're also glad we can stick to air travel over boat, following the worst year ever for cruises