International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Employees in the aviation industry are likely to have heard of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This influential trade association supports many areas within aviation and is instrumental in formulating industry policy. Because of the IATA’s widespread influence, it’s beneficial to know what it is and how it helps to shape the aviation industry.


What is the IATA?


The IATA is a global trade association for airlines throughout the world, currently counting 292 airlines, or 80% of all airline traffic, amongst its membership. Founded in Cuba in 1945, it is now headquartered in Montreal, with executive offices in Switzerland. Current members of the IATA include Turkish Airlines, WestJet, and Qantas.


The association’s overall mission is to represent, lead, and serve the aviation industry. The IATA’s Board of Governors set priorities for the industry each year, with the current key priorities being safety, financial resilience, environmental sustainability, and industry restart following the Coronavirus pandemic.


How does the IATA support the aviation industry?


The IATA sets industry-wide regulations and policies for airlines, with the aim of improving standards and simplifying processes for passengers, as well as continually improving safety and efficiency. The policy that the IATA develops covers a wide range of areas within aviation. These include consumer and passenger issues such as human trafficking, handling unruly passengers, and passenger security. Other policy areas that the IATA covers include environmental policy and sustainability, and the future development of the industry.


By shaping policy and the industry’s future, the IATA implements change and supports its members to successfully introduce changes to policies and processes. An example is implementing the electronic airline ticket, in response to requests from its membership. As well as giving travellers the benefit of increased convenience, this has improved the industry’s sustainability by reducing the use of paper tickets.


The IATA’s current priorities


The IATA’s priorities for 2021 cover four main areas. A key performance target for this year for airline safety is to reduce the 5-year all accident rate from 2017-2021 compared to between 2016-2020. In the area of financial resilience, the IATA is aiming to secure $75-95 billion in government relief measures for airlines. This is closely linked to its goals for industry restart following the Coronavirus pandemic. In this area, the association plans to work with governments to build plans for reopening borders and allowing quarantine-free travel.


The final 2021 priority for the IATA is to support the industry’s environmental sustainability by offsetting 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide through the IATA Aviation Carbon Exchange.


The future of aviation


As well as having priorities for the current year, the IATA also looks ahead. The association has a fundamental influence on the future of the airline industry. A key policy for the industry’s future is to increase female representation. The IATA’s campaigns aim to increase the proportion of women in senior roles and roles where women are typically under-represented by 25%, or up to a minimum of 25%, by 2025. This voluntary campaign is aimed at aircraft manufacturers and airports, as well as airlines themselves. Making these changes by 2025 represents a step towards the industry achieving gender balance.