Flying remains the safest form of long distance travel with the equivalent of one major accident for every 2.56 million flights last year, according to new official figures.

There were 10 fatal accidents with 268 fatalities in the year, compared to an average of 13.4 fatal accidents and 371 deaths per year in the previous five-year period.

Data covering the 2016 safety performance of the commercial airline industry released by Iata shows that the all accident rate – measured in accidents per one million flights – was 1.61, an improvement from 1.79 in 2015.

However, the 2016 major jet accident rate – measured in hull losses per one million flights – was 0.39, a deterioration on the rate of 0.32 achieved in 2015 and above the five-year rate (2011-2015) of 0.36.

The 2016 jet hull loss rate for Iata member airlines was 0.35, or one accident for every 2.86 million flights. While this outperformed the global hull loss rate, it was a step back from the 0.22 accidents per million flights achieved by Iata carriers in 2015.

Iata director general and chief executive, Alexandre de Juniac, said: “Last year some 3.8 billion travellers flew safely on 40.4 million flights.

“The number of total accidents, fatal accidents and fatalities all declined versus the five-year average, showing that aviation continues to become safer.

“We did take a step back on some key parameters from the exceptional performance of 2015; however, flying is still the safest form of long distance travel. And safety remains the top priority of all involved in aviation.

“The goal is for every flight to depart and arrive without incident. And every accident redoubles our efforts to achieve that.”