100 years of commercial flight: safety and profitability

In June 2014, a General Assembly of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) will be held in Doha and will include talks on the future of aviation. How safe is it?

100 years of commercial flight: safety and profitability

In June 2014, a General Assembly of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) will be held in Doha and will include talks on the future of aviation. How safe is it? Why billions in profit isn’t enough.

Doha, Qatar, will host the General IATA Assembly from June 1 to 3, and the event will also celebrate the occasion of 100 years of commercial flight, which today represents over 270 commercial airlines around the world.

From the take-off of the first airliner up to those of the current 100,000 aircraft that daily ply the skies around the world, exactly a century has passed. In 1914, few would have bet that the plane would become the safest means of transport with an average of one accident for every 2.4 million flights.

Yet, security will be a central theme of the IATA’s General Assembly, brought to the fore by the incredible story of the Malaysia Airlines aircraft that disappeared from radar and literally from the heavens. In this regard, the CEO and General Director of IATA, Tony Tyler, said recently that “the case regarding the Malaysia flight MH370 is an unprecedented event, and for this we need to understand the causes of the tragedy and to address an even more stringent policy in aviation security.”

Along with this theme, the program of the 70th IATA General Assembly will also focus on procedures for fast travel, that is to say all the innovations made possible by the Internet, including the advent of smartphones, tablets, and applications that allow passengers to book leaner and board more rapidly. IATA is focusing on this hot topic, because the aviation leaders have already highlighted the problem of the harmonization of standards applied in different countries.

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The future, however, requires a timely manner to work on new regulations. It will be interesting to hear and read about the updates on the revolutionary systems to be planned for access to air services. In other words, potential changes to self-service options that handle passengers through airport processes more efficiently, such as online check-in, kiosks to read document identity, machines for auto-tagging of bags and luggage for transportation, as well as options for self-boarding, re-booking, and baggage tracking.

It will then be the turn of the financial analysts to compare profit margins in recent years. Surely, more than one delegate at IATA will breathe a sigh of relief as the global aviation industry finally takes the path of growth, albeit limited, with a volume of profits that should reach about $18.7 billion, the highest profit ever in the history of civil aviation. However, for an industry that generates US$745 billion in annual revenue, a net profit margin of just 2.5 % still shows a weakness and a poor state of health which must be cared for and operated with more diligent managerial performance.

An industry such as aviation, in fact, it is still too vulnerable and constantly at the mercy of some independent variables that undermine the consolidation of standards. Among these, the fluctuation of fuel prices is a real thorn in the side of the budgets of almost all airlines.

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