2014 marks centenary of commercial aviation

2013-12-31 14:08
Cape Town  - 1 January 2014 marks exactly 100 years since the birth of commercial aviation - and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has invited all those with an interest in aviation to join in on a year-long centenary celebration.

The day marks the first scheduled commercial flight, across Tampa Bay, Florida by the then St Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line.

Four pioneers could not have envisioned the transformational changes that would follow - and so the industry began with only one passenger on one route on 1 January 1914.

Funded by Percival Fansler, Thomas Benoist’s airboat conducted the first flight, piloted by Tony Jannus.  And the lucky inaugural passenger for the 23-minute flight was Abram Pheil, then mayor of St Petersburg, paid $400 at auction for his ticket.

To mark the occasion a re-enactment of the historic flight, dubbed Flight 2014, will take place using on 1 January using a Hoffman X-4 “Mullet Skiff” amphibious flying boat, similar in many respects to the original Benoist airboat which performed the first flight.  It will launch from St Petersburg, Florida and fly across the bay to Tampa at 10:00 US Eastern Standard Time (14:00 GMT), re-tracing the exact path taken by Jannus and Pheil 100 years ago.  

A commemorative website www.flying100years.com will 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.

“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.

From a pioneering beginning to a global force for good

Today the global aviation industry provides unprecedented connectivity and positively impacts — directly and indirectly — people in all corners of the world.

- 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%.

To join the twitter conversation use #flying100

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