100 years of commercial flight

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One hundred years of commercial airline flight will be marked tomorrow 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%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

Tomorrow, after 100 years, a replica of the first airboat will take off from St Petersburg to fly to Tampa.

The re-enactment kicks off a year of celebrations supported by the International Air Transport Association (Iata).

As preparations got under way for the replica flight, Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways' parent company IAG, hailed the success of commercial aviation's first 100 years.

He said: "Aviation is a miracle. It's truly wonderful. Everybody who lives finds it somehow touches their lives.

"Without question, aviation is a force for good. There are issues we must address such as the environment where our performance must improve, but it's a fantastic industry."

Mr Walsh highlighted the rise of the low-cost airlines in recent years, saying "now everybody expects to be able to fly".

He went on: "I generally believe we are at an exciting stage in aviation where we can improve our environmental and financial performance."

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."

Iata today released some statistics which showed:

:: On average, every day more than eight million people fly. In 2013 total passenger numbers were 3.1 billion - surpassing the three billion mark for the first time;

:: 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).

:: Aviation supports more than 57 million jobs with the industry's direct economic contribution being around £337 billion;

:: Global airline industry turnover is expected to be around £464 billion in 2014, with an average industry profit margin of 2.6%.

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