Fatalities from jetliner crashes fell by almost 50 percent last year, buoyed by an improved record in Africa that made the region safer than the CIS countries, the International Air Transport Association said.

There were 210 deaths from commercial aviation accidents, down from 414 in 2012, the Montreal-based industry body said in a statement. The number of fatal crashes rose by one to 16.

More than 3 billion people traveled safely on 36.4 million flights in 2013, with 81 commercial planes suffering accidents, IATA said. The loss rate for Western-built jets in Africa was cut to 2.03 per million from 4.55, with just one written off, while the figure for the Commonwealth of Independent states rose from zero to 2.09, the worst record globally.

“We are seeing progress in Africa,” IATA Chief Executive Officer Tony Tyler said today, adding that for all aircraft types the accident rate for sub-Saharan nations also improved nearly 50 percent, to 7.45 per million. While none of the association’s members suffered losses in the CIS, “the region as a whole experienced a significant deterioration.”

About 20 percent of all accidents were fatal, unchanged from a year earlier. Runway incidents continue to be the most common, accounting for 23 percent of the total over the past five years, though survivability is high, with the category accounting for only 8 percent of deaths, IATA said.

The loss rate for Western-built aircraft for the industry as a whole stands at 0.41 per million, equivalent to one accident per 2.4 million flights.

With the Malaysian Airline System Bhd. Boeing Co. 777 that vanished on March 8 carrying 239 passengers and crew, 2014 is already set to return a higher fatality figure than 2013.

“The airline industry, its stakeholders and regulators are in the beginning of the journey to unravel this mystery, understand the cause and find ways to ensure that it never happens again,” Tyler said in the statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kari Lundgren in London at klundgren2@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net Christopher Jasper.

Tags: iata, safety
Photo Credit: A woman and a girl look at a Malaysia Airlines plane on the tarmac of Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 13, 2014. Damir Sagolj / Reuters