The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is an international trade industry trade group of airlines headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada where the International Civil Aviation Organization is also headquartered. IATA's mission is to represent, lead and serve the airline industry.
Today, IATA’s mission is to represent, lead and serve the airline industry. Representing: IATA seeks to improve understanding of the industry among decision makers and increase awareness of the benefits that aviation brings to national and global economies. It fights for the interests of airlines across the globe, challenging unreasonable rules and charges, holding regulators and governments to account, and striving for sensible regulation. Leading: IATA’s aim is to help airlines help themselves by simplifying processes and increasing passenger convenience while reducing costs and improving efficiency. The groundbreaking Simplifying the Business initiative is crucial in this area. Moreover, safety is IATA’s number one priority, and IATA’s goal is to continually improve safety standards, notably through IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). Another main concern is to minimise the impact of air transport on environment. Serving: IATA ensures that people and goods can move around the global airline network as easily as if they were on a single airline in a single country. In addition, it provides essential professional support to all industry stakeholders with a wide range of products and expert services, such as publications, training and consulting. IATA’s financial systems also help carriers and the travel industry maximise revenues.
For fare calculations IATA has divided the world in three regions:
- 1. South, Central and North America. Europe, Middle East and Africa.
- 2. IATA Europe includes the geographical Europe and Turkey, Israel, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
- 3. Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the islands of the Pacific Ocean.
To this end, airlines have been granted a special exemption by each of the main regulatory authorities in the world to consult prices with each other through this body. However, the organisation has been accused of acting as a cartel, and many low cost carriers are not full IATA members. The European Union's competition authorities are currently investigating the body. In 2005, Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Competition, made a proposal to lift the exception to consult prices. In July 2006, the United States Department of Transportation also proposed to withdraw antitrust immunity. IATA teamed with SITA for an electronic ticketing solution.
IATA assigns 3-letter IATA Airport Codes and 2-letter IATA airline designators, which are commonly used worldwide.ICAO also assigns airport and airline codes. For Rail&Fly systems, IATA also assigns IATA train station codes. For delay codes, IATA assigns IATA Delay Codes.
IATA is pivotal in the worldwide accreditation of travel agents with exception of the U.S., where this is done by the Airlines Reporting Corporation. Permission to sell airline tickets from the participating carriers is achieved through national member organisations. Over 80% of airlines' sales come from IATA accredited agents.
IATA administrates worldwide the Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) and Cargo Accounts Settlement Systems (CASS) that serve as a facilitator of the sales, reporting and remittance of accredited travel and cargo agencies. Both settlement programmes are ruled by standards and resolutions.
IATA regulates the shipping of dangerous goods and publishes the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations manual, a globally accepted field source reference for airlines' shipping of hazardous materials.
IATA maintains the Timatic database containing cross border passenger documentation requirements. It is used by airlines to determine whether a passenger can be carried, as well as by airlines and travel agents to provide this information to travellers at the time of booking.
IATA publishes standards for use in the airline industry. The Bar Coded Boarding Pass (BCBP) standard defines the 2-Dimensional (2D) bar code printed on paper boarding passes or sent to mobiles phones for electronic boarding passes.
IATA publishes the IATA Rates of Exchange (IROE) four times per year, used with the Neutral Unit of Construction (NUC) fare currency-neutral construction system that superseded the older Fare Construction Unit (FCU) system in 1989.
In 2004, IATA launched Simplifying the Business - a set of five initiatives which it says will save the industry US$6.5 billion every year. These projects are BCBP, IATA e-freight, CUSS (common use self-service), Baggage Improvement Programme (BIP) and the Fast Travel Programme.
In 2003, the IATA Safety Operational Audit (IOSA) was launched with the aim to serve as a standard and worldwide recognized certification of airlines' operational management. The IOSA certification has now become an mandatory requisite for all IATA member airlines.IATA is member of the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).