2004 was the safest year ever for air transport," said Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). "Despite the US$35 billion in accumulated losses since 2001, the industry continues to invest in our number one priority with fantastic results."

In 2004, the industry-wide hull loss rate declined by 10% to 0.78 hull losses per million sectors flown. In real terms the number of accidents increased from 99 in 2003 to 103 in 2004 while global traffic increased in the order of 15%.

IATA members significantly outperformed the industry on safety. IATA member airlines account for 94% of scheduled international traffic but were only involved in 39% of hull losses. The hull loss rate for IATA members stood at 0.57 per million sectors.

"Over 1.8 billion people traveled safely in 2004. Tragically, however, 428 people lost their lives in commercial aircraft accidents. To put that into perspective, that is a similar number to 1945 when the industry carried only 9 million passengers. Air transport is the safest form of transport but every accident is one too many. We are fully committed to further improvements," said Bisignani.

"While we have made tremendous progress in safety, IATA has an aggressive program to lead the industry to even safer levels. This includes a commitment to reduce the accident rate by a further 25% by 2006," said Bisignani.

"A pillar of our approach to aviation safety is the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). This is the industry's first global standard for safety audit and it will become a standard for IATA membership," said Bisignani. "Air transport is safe. And we are committed to make it even safer. With 100 audits scheduled in 2005, airlines committing to operate in accordance with IOSA standards are making a clear and positive safety statement."

IOSA has won recognition from regulators. At its 35th General Assembly in September 2004, the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) identified the great value of IOSA as a tool to augment and focus the safety oversight activity of States. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recognized IOSA as a program that may be used by U.S. carriers to meet their obligation to conduct safety audits of their code share partners.

Whereas previously each codeshare required an individual audit, sharing of audit data through the IOSA registry can provide the same quality while eliminating the need for duplicate auditing.

"IATA is not only committed to improving safety, we are investing our resources to help raise the bar industry-wide," said Bisignani. The IOSA Standards manual is available free of charge to all airlines, including those who are not IATA members.

  1. Jet aircraft is defined as Western-built jet powered aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of 15,000 kg.
  2. A Hull loss is defined as an accident in which an aircraft is substantially damaged and is not subsequently repaired for whatever reason including a financial decision of the owner.

View the detailed graph for 1995-2004 (pdf)