Celebration of first paying passenger flight launches year of reflection on contribution of aviation to modern life

Geneva - 1 January 2014 marks exactly 100 years since the birth of commercial aviation. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) invites 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.

From a pioneering beginning to a global force for good

  • On 1 January 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
  • Abram Pheil, then mayor of St. Petersburg, paid $400 at auction for the 23-minute flight

These pioneers could not have envisioned the transformational changes that would follow. The industry began with only one passenger on one route on 1 January 1914. 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 8 million people fly. In 2013 total passenger numbers were 3.1 billion—surpassing the 3 billion mark for the first time ever. That number is expected to grow to 3.3 billion in 2014 (equivalent to 44% of the world’s population).
  • 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 Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“Aviation is a force for good. And 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.

Commemorative Activities

  • A website (www.flying100years.com) will be launched in 1 January 2014 to host the centennial celebration. Along with historical and economic reference materials, the website will also be an interactive information hub depicting the value that commercial aviation provides from personal, economic and other perspectives.
  • Twitter conversations about aviation’s first century can be linked through #flying100
  • IATA is one of the sponsors of Flight 2014 which is planning to re-enact the first commercial passenger flight using a Hoffman X-4 “Mullet Skiff” amphibious flying boat, similar in many respects to the original Benoist airboat which performed the first flight. The Hoffman will take off from St Petersburg, Florida and fly across the bay to Tampa at 10:00am US Eastern Standard Time, re-tracing the exact path taken by Jannus and Pheil 100 years ago.


Media Materials: http://releasd.com/0411/new-years-day-2014-marks-100-years-of-commercial-aviation

For further information, to arrange interviews or for images and footage please contact:

In London:

Victoria Barton
+ 44 (0)20 7611 3670
+ 44 (0)7872 827 882
Darren Young
+ 44 (0)20 7611 3771
+ 44 (0)7545 701 719

In Florida:

Perry Flint
+1 202 297 7464

Notes to Editors

1. Media Materials

  • A number of pre-prepared materials for media organisations can be found at http://releasd.com/0411
  • The b-roll has been provided in native frame rates. Please note that this is only licensed for 72-hours for each individual broadcaster
  • Files will be in the ProRes codec
  • The b-roll has been split into sections to make it more user-friendly. A menu slide describing the clips included, with timecode references is also included
  • Separate b-roll sections can be downloaded as zip files
  • A series of short interviews with leading aviation industry CEOs have also been provided in both NTSC and PAL formats

2. About IATA

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 240 airlines or 84% of total air traffic. It supports many areas of aviation activity and helps formulate industry policy on critical aviation issues.

You can follow us at http://twitter.com/iata2press for news specially catered for the media. During 2014 the hashtag #flying100 will be used.

3. www.Flying100years.com

A new website will launch on 1 January 2014. News and comment will appear on the website and be updated regularly throughout 2014.