What is IATA and its function?

IATA is an acronym for the International Air Transport Association. It is one of the largest trade associations for most of the easily recognizable airlines of the world. It represents all major air carriers under its wing and has nearly 290 airlines spread across 117 countries. The member airlines of the association carry about 82 percent of the complete air traffic in the world and therefore one can easily understand the reach that it commands globally. 

The IATA came into existence in April 1945 in Havana, Cuba. It succeeded the International Air Traffic Association that was formed at The Hague, the Netherlands in 1919. At the time of IATA’s creation, the association had 57 airlines under its umbrella from 31 participating countries and has grown quite large since then. IATA helps in creating the industry standards and policy along with supporting the activities of all airlines. The organization has its headquarter in Montreal, Quebec, Canada while its Executive Office is situated in Geneva, Switzerland. Some of the functions of IATA are covered in the following sections.



It is one of the foremost concerns of IATA so that air travelers and aircraft can be ensured to stay safe at all times. It has introduced panels to set up the safety standards for carriers as well as professionals so that it can be made sure that all rules and regulations are being followed judiciously. It has led to improvements in air traffic safety and air accident occurrences have been reduced significantly.  



Aircraft are susceptible to hijacking and terrorism incidents. After many types of such cases and the September 2011 attacks in the US, the association introduced some strict reforms and introduced provisions that seek to enhance airlines’ security. The system introduced by it mainly works on risk assessment and passenger differentiation techniques.



In addition to regulatory and policy-making services, the association also provides consultancy and training services. Some of its offerings to improve air travel and airlines standards are also mentioned here for a complete understanding.

  • To differentiate between genuine and unauthorized travel agents or agencies, IATA provides certified accreditations to travel professionals as well as travel agents. This can help air flyers to select a service in the most desirable manner.
  • To monitor the tax expenditure of airlines, it provides a database service that is known as the TTBS or the Ticket Tax Box Service so that airlines can do the same seamlessly.
  • It offers a 300 billion system of finance to look into airlines revenue and that can help the billing and settlement service of the association. 
    It has developed its own course and syllabus structure for many different travel and tourism courses. An IATA certification can be very helpful for students who would like to complete a genuine and industry approved course. Most travel organizations and renowned airlines only want to hire people who are trained and conversant with IATA courses.


Air travel consumes fuel in a substantial way and that is why it is a massive contributor to air pollution. Due to this concern, IATA has collaborated with aircraft original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) so that less polluting and more efficient engines can be developed for energy conservation. The tie-up has led to improvements in fuel efficiency to almost 1.5 percent per year from 2009 through 2020 and that is quite a big development as far as environment preservation is concerned. The emissions from aircraft engines could be reduced to quite a large extent and IATA has further planned to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent by the year 2050. It can be a big milestone for the association towards its environmental initiatives. 
At its 69th annual general meeting (AGM) in Cape Town, South Africa, IATA the members of the association passed a resolution on “Implementation of the Aviation Carbon-Neutral Growth (CNG2020) Strategy”. It is basically a set of principles for the governments to –

  • Set up processes for a single market-based measure (MBM).
  • Include single MBM as an overall solution so that CNG2020 can be achieved.

As a travel and tourism body, IATA has been quite helpful for all its members as it helps to further their cause and recommend suggestive measures for the betterment of the sector. That is why many airlines that were erstwhile not associated with it have also joined the ranks so that their concerns could be properly addressed.