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100-Year Anniversary For Commercial Aviation

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

08 January 2014

The commercial aviation industry entered its centenary year on January 1, 2014, exactly 100 years since the world's first commercial flight.

Abram Pheil, then mayor of Saint Petersburg, Florida, paid USD400 at auction for the 23-minute flight, piloted by Tony Jannus, to Tampa Bay, Florida.

The International Air Transport Association, drawing attention to the industry milestone, has highlighted the rapid expansion seen in the past 100 years with the global aviation industry now providing unprecedented connectivity to all corners of the world.

100 years on, an average of eight million people fly each day. Passenger numbers breached 3 billion for the first time in 2013, and about 50 million tons of cargo is transported by air each year. The aviation industry now supports over 57 million jobs globally and generates economic activity worth approximately USD2.2 trillion.

Tony Tyler, IATA's Director General and Chief Executive Officer, pointed out that "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: The aviation industry [today] 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."

"Aviation is a force for good and the potential of commercial flight to keep changing the world for the better is almost unlimited. A hundred years is something worth celebrating. We look forward to creating an equally remarkable legacy for commercial aviation's second century."

As part of this year's celebrations, IATA sponsored Flight 2014, a re-enactment of the first commercial passenger flight using a Hoffman X-4 "Mullet Skiff" amphibious flying boat – an aircraft similar in many respects to the original Benoist airboat. The Hoffman took off from St Petersburg, Florida, and flew across the bay to Tampa at 10:00am US EST, re-tracing the exact path taken by Jannus and Pheil 100 years ago.

TAGS: aviation | trade

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