The International Air Transport Association, a successor to the International Air Transport Association formed at Hague in 1919, a nodal organization, was founded in 1945 by the airlines of certain countries with the prime objective of overcoming the complexities and problems arising from the rapid expansion of civil air services and World War II.
As a non-governmental organization, it derived its legal existence from a special Act passed by the Canadian Parliament in December 1945. The IATA closely resembles with the International Civil Aviation Organization in terms of its activities and organizational structure.
The IATA is voluntary, non-exclusive, non-political and democratic organization, whose membership is open to any operating airline which has been licensed to run scheduled air services by the government. Thus, the members of IATA are scheduled international airlines while scheduled airlines in domestic services can join IATA only as associate members.
As per the Articles of Association of IATA, the main objectives are:
(i) To promote safe, regular and economical air transport for the benefit of the people of the world, to foster air commerce and, to study the problems connected therewith;
(ii) To provide means for collaboration among the air transport enterprises engaged directly or indirectly in international air transport services;
(iii) To cooperate with the International Civil Aviation Organization and other international organizations;
(iv) To provide a common platform for travel agencies/tour operators’
(v) To promote and develop international tourism.
Price fixing in I.A.T.A
IATA has been described as “the world aviation cartel”. IATA enjoyed immunity from anti-trust law in several nations.
At a time when many airlines were government owned and loss-making, IATA operated as a cartel, charged by the governments with setting a fixed fare structure that avoided price competition. The first Traffic Conference was held in 1947 in Rio de Janeiro and reached unanimous agreement on some 400 resolutions.
In 2006, IATA entered into a consent decree with the United States Department of Justice related to alleged price fixing at its tariff conferences.
IATA states that safety is its number one priority. The main instrument for safety is the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). IOSA has also been mandated at the state level by several countries. In 2017, aviation posted its safest year ever, surpassing the previous record set in 2012. The new global Western-built jet accident rate became the equivalent of one accident every 7.36 million flights. Future improvements will be founded on data sharing with a database fed by a multitude of sources and housed by the Global Safety Information Center. In June 2014 the IATA set up a special panel to study measures to track aircraft in flight in real time. The move was in response to the disappearance without trace of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on 8 March 2014.