June 11, 2016

A Flight of 100 Years

1 January 1914 — A Benoist flying boat takes off from St. Petersburg, Florida, and crosses the bay to Tampa. On board with pilot Tony Jannus is Abram C. Pheil, the world’s first scheduled commercial air passenger. This historic flight marked the dawn of the commercial air transport age. The St. Petersburg-Tampa airboat line was the brainchild of local entrepreneur Percival Fansler, who recognized the commercial potential of linking the two towns with a daily air service. As the inaugural flight prepared to take off, Fansler gave a speech where he predicted, “The airboat line to Tampa will be only a forerunner of great activity along these lines in the near future…what was impossible yesterday is an accomplishment of today—while tomorrow heralds the unbelievable.”


Pheil, who bid $400 for his ticket at auction (the regular fare was $5), was the first passenger. The industry has carried more than 65 billion people in the 100 years since then. From one route, one plane, and one passenger in January 1914, the industry will in 2014 serve 3.3 billion passengers with a fleet of 25,000 planes on almost 50,000 routes. Air transport has touched every country on earth, bringing social and economic benefits and transforming the way we live and do business.


To mark this historic milestone, in 2014 IATA launched a website that is gathering together the industry and its supporters to join the celebration and join the conversation on aviation and its future. The site features a timeline of significant events, and stories from the public on what air connectivity means to them. Videos, pictures, and comments from airlines, airports, manufacturers, and many other organizations connected to aviation are being showcased on the site

each month. And using social media, the story of aviation’s incredible century is being shared around the world.


Also, National Geographic Studios released original film ‘Living in the Age of Airplanes’ to giant screen cinemas worldwide. Filmed in 18 countries across all 7 continents, the film explores the countless ways the airplane affects our lives (even when we don’t fly).


Aviation has made a small world. And if connectivity and the benefits of aviation can continue to grow, the world is guaranteed a big future.



100 Years of Aviation: Key Milestones and Passenger Numbers


1914 - 1,205 passengers

First commerical passenger flight, commercial airline


1919 - 6,549 passengers

KLM starts operations: oldest airline still in service


1921 - 13,559 passengers

First air traffic controllers employed at Croyden Aerodrome, London


1922 - 19,285 passengers

First use of aircraft for government business by Colombian president


1930 - 290,000 passengers

First flight attendant with Boeing Air Transport (today’s United)


1934 - 652,000 passengers

First transatlantic airmail services operated by Deutsche Luft Hansa (Lufthansa)


1935 - 976,000 passengers

First transpacific airmail services operated by Pan American’s China Clipper


1936 - 1,300,000 passengers

Douglas DC-3 enters service with American Airlines


1939 - 2,000,000 passengers

First scheduled passenger transatlantic flights operated by Pan American


1944 - 5,500,000 passengers

Chicago Convention signed — the foundation of global aviation today


1945 - 2,000,000 passengers

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) founded in Havana


1952 - 39,500,000 passengers

First commercial jet passenger service by BOAC


1971 - 411,000,000 passengers

First low-cost carrier, Southwest Airlines, enters service


1970 - 383,000,000 passengers

The Boeing 747 enters service with Pan American


1976 - 576,000,000 passengers

Concorde enters service as first supersonic passenger aircraft


1978 - 679,000,000 passengers

United States deregulates the airline industry


1981 - 752,000,000 passengers

First frequent flyer program launched by American Airlines


1998 - 1,471,000,000 passengers

First transpolar passenger flight by Cathay Pacific


2007 - 2,422,000,000 passengers

The Airbus A380 enters passenger service with Singapore Airlines


2011 - 2,824,000,000 passengers

First passenger biofuel flights by KLM and Lufthansa


2014 - 3,213,664,822 passengers

Qatar Airways is the launch customer of the Airbus A350.

The aircraft is a century away from the bi-plane used by Tony Jannus and represents yet another leap forward in customer comfort and operational and environmental efficiency.



IATA Annual Review 2014