BY CHINEDU EZE AS SEEN ON THISDAYLIVE||
January 1, 2014 marks exactly 100 years since the birth of commercial aviation, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said. IATA is therefore inviting everyone with an interest in aviation to join a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary and take part in a conversation about what needs to happen to make the next 100 years even more momentous.
On January 1, 1914, a team of four visionaries combined efforts in the first scheduled commercial airline flight. Percival Fansler organised the funding for the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line which provided the first scheduled air service across Tampa Bay, Florida.
Thomas Benoist’s airboat conducted the first flight, piloted by Tony Jannus and Abram Pheil, then mayor of St. Petersburg, paid $400 at auction for the 23-minute flight.
IATA said these pioneers could not have envisioned the transformational changes that would follow.
The industry began with only one passenger on one route on January 1, 1914, but today the global aviation industry provides unprecedented connectivity and positively impacts—directly and indirectly—people in all corners of the world.
Some key statistics include on average, every day more than eight million people fly. In 2013 total passenger numbers were 3.1 billion—surpassing the three billion mark for the first time ever. IATA said that number is expected to grow to 3.3 billion in 2014 (equivalent to 44 per cent of the world’s population).
Also about 50 million tonnes of cargo is transported by air each year (about 140,000 tonnes daily). The annual value of these goods is some $6.4 trillion—or 35% of the value of goods traded internationally.
Aviation supports over 57 million jobs and generates $2.2 trillion in economic activity. The industry’s direct economic contribution of around $540 billion would, if translated into the GDP ranking of countries, place the industry in 19th position.
Global airline industry turnover is expected to be $743 billion in 2014, with an average industry net profit margin of 2.6%.
“Over the last century, commercial aviation has transformed the world in ways unimaginable in 1914. The first flight provided a short-cut across Tampa Bay. Today the aviation industry re-unites loved ones, connects cultures, expands minds, opens markets, and fosters development. Aviation provides people around the globe with the freedom to make connections that can change their lives and the world,” said IATA’s Director General and CEO, Tony Tyler
Tyler remarked that aviation is a force for good, noting that the potential of commercial flight to keep changing the world for the better is almost unlimited.
“Aviation has always been a team effort. Growing and sustainably spreading the benefits of connectivity will require the industry, governments, regulators and local communities keep true to the ‘all-in-it-together’ ethos that was the bedrock of that pioneering first flight. And we should be guided by the long-term interests of all whose lives are positively transformed by commercial aviation every day. A hundred years is something worth celebrating. And we look forward to creating an equally remarkable legacy for commercial aviation’s second century,” said Tyler