One hundred years of commercial airline flight will be marked on 01 January with a re-enactment of the very first fare-paying journey.
On January 1 1914, the St Petersburg-Tampa Airboat line was able to make a 23-minute flight across Tampa Bay in Florida, in the United States. On January 1 2014, a replica of that first airboat will take off from St Petersburg to fly to Tampa.
At exactly 10AM on New Year’s Day, Kermit Weeks will fly his reproduction of the original Benoist Airboat from the North Yacht Basin in downtown St. Petersburg (near the History Museum) to the Seaplane Basin at Peter O. Knight Airport on Davis Islands in Tampa, recreating the first flight.
The re-enactment kicks off a year of celebrations supported by the International Air Transport Association (Iata).
It should be noted that IATA is one of many industry bodies, was founded in Havana in 1945 and now represents some 240 airlines.
The industry began with only one passenger on one route on 1 January 1914. Today the global aviation industry provides unprecedented connectivity and positively impacts—directly and indirectly—people in all corners of the world.
Some statistics released by IATA:
- 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%.
- Aviation accounts for 2% of global CO2 emissions
Iata director general and chief executive Tony Tyler said: “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.”
Several websites have been setup to commemorate the 100th anniversary, including:
Other sites covering the story: