IATA – Who or what?

Oman Air’s revenue account staff was awarded IATA Diplomas earlier this year in recognition of their hard work on intensive training courses featuring electronic ticketing.

So what exactly is IATA? You will certainly have heard of it, but we guess you’ve sometimes wondered what these initials actually stand for and for that matter what this organization does? Well, IATA is the International Airline Transport Association, which is the main organization for inter-airline cooperation in promoting safe, reliable, secure and economical air services – all for the benefit of you, one of the world’s consumers.

A quick look at its history tells us it was initially formed in 1919. Yes that’s it, just after the First World War of 1914-1918, as the International Airline Traffic Association but then in this very month of April some 67 years ago in Havana, Cuba it was reborn as the IATA which we know today. As you will appreciate, in 1945 the airline industry was around 100 times smaller than it is now.

So where did it go from there – well the first worldwide Traffic Conference was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1947 and amazingly the delegates reached unanimous agreement on nearly 400 resolutions covering all aspects of air travel. Once the technical and legal framework was sorted out, typical details agreed at this pioneering meeting were fare construction rules for multi-sector trips, revenue allocation, baggage allowances, and ticket and air waybill design and agency appointment procedures.

And a point of interest to you the passenger – did you know that today 50 million international air passengers a year pay for their tickets in one place, in one currency, but complete their journey using at least two, and sometimes five or more, airlines from different countries using different currencies?

So to the future?

IATA has a long-term vision for the air transport industry, and it is Vision 2050 which will shape the industry’s future and IATA is therefore working on an ambitious plan based on the following:

  • Structuring for profitability
  • Sufficient and efficient infrastructure
  • Sustainable technology to power the industry
  • Capability to meet the needs of the customer of the future

To quote IATA: The industry is essential for the global economy, supporting 32 million jobs across the globe, and over 3.5 trillion US$, in economic activities, and still growing. By 2050 it is estimated that some 16 billion passengers and 400 million tonnes of freight will need to be flown yearly.