Tony Tyler, current Director General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) marked the 70th annual general meeting with details of the first commercial flight anniversary this year of 100 years. On Jan 1st, 1914, said Tyler, the first paid flight took place between Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg and lasted 23 minutes.
Modern aviation sees the industry handling 3.3 billion passengers a day, and carrying more than 52 tons of cargo across 50,000 routes within 100,000 flights.
“Today, aviation is the life blood of the global economy. The industry supports over 58 million jobs and $2.4 trillion in annual economic activity,” said Mr Tyler. “Flying brings people together—families, friends and business colleagues. It gives people the freedom to be almost anywhere in just 24 hours. It has turned our wonderfully big planet into a wonderfully small world of enormous and wonderful opportunities.”
He went on to address the challenges that the industry also faces, mentioning the unprecedented loss of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and reiterating the urgent need to improve global tracking capability to ensure that such an incident never happens again.
Mr Tyler also talked about aviation security as a challenge within the industry and across all sectors.
“Airlines help fund global aviation security with taxes and fees costing $8.55 billion a year. Not all of this is even spent on aviation security. And passengers still say that security remains their biggest travel hassle,” he said. “Inconsistencies across jurisdictions defy understanding. The focus on prohibited objects sees law-abiding passengers treated with criminal suspicion. There is waste and inefficiency. We must do a better job.”
IATA are working with the Airports Council International (ACI) to help implement change and to improve effectiveness and efficiency with Smart Security and the use of the latest technology to streamline operations in order to improve passenger experience without compromising security.
As we look at the aviation industry a century after the first commercial flight, we see incredible advancements on a global scale. Mr Tyler said, “Aviation’s greatest contribution is the freedom it gives people to follow their dreams and change their lives. In 100 years we have turned our enormous planet into a small world. In doing so, we have created a very big future for us all.”