Commercial aviation: an economic factor for the past 100 years

First scheduled air service launched in United States on 1 January 1914


WEBWIRE – Monday, December 30, 2013

On 1 January 1914, the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line became the first scheduled passenger airline service. The twice-daily flight between St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida, was piloted by Tony Jannus in a Benoist XIV flying boat, covering the 21-mile distance in 23 minutes. The first paying passenger was former St. Petersburg mayor Abraham C. Pheil, and the cost of a ticket was $5 each way. During its four months of operation, the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line carried a total of 1,205 passengers. Today, the Lufthansa Group airlines alone carry more than 100 million passengers annually to more than 250 destinations worldwide.

What was then viewed as a sensational technological breakthrough is now an integral part of everyday life in modern societies. Mobility is a determinant of personal freedom and self-determination. Moreover, it has become a crucial factor in competitiveness and in social prosperity. Global aviation has emerged as a major force driving trade and industry. Each year, some three billion people – in other words, about 44 per cent of the world’s population – board an aircraft and travel a total distance of about 30 billion km.

Aircraft technology and airline operations have advanced steadily since then. Flying has never been safer than it is today, and in terms of passenger comfort, fuel efficiency and noise reduction, the industry is constantly achieving new records. The next generation of Lufthansa’s long-range aircraft, for example, will require a mere 2.9 litres of fuel to transport one passenger over a distance of 100 km. These aircraft will cut CO2 emissions by 25 per cent and will be about 30 per cent quieter than previous models. In September 2013, the Lufthansa Group placed an order for 59 ultra-modern long-range jets.

This pioneering spirit has always provided a powerful impetus to the other companies in the Lufthansa Group, too. The “first” Lufthansa airline, which began scheduled operations in 1926, launched trailblazing innovations during the Roaring Twenties such as the first night flight from Berlin to Königsberg (present-day Kaliningrad) and the first large passenger aircraft, a Junkers G31 with an on-board galley, enabling food and drinks to be served to passengers for the first time. Soon after, intercontinental connections to Asia and South America were established.

And this pioneering spirit remains as strong as ever. For decades, Lufthansa has played a major role in the development of new aircraft. Lufthansa engineers are currently working jointly with their counterparts at Boeing and Airbus on the design of the new Boeing 777X and the Airbus A350-900, which will be deployed from 2020 and 2016, respectively. The Lufthansa Group is also driving forward the development of biofuels. In 2011, Lufthansa became the first – and to date the only – airline to use biofuel in scheduled daily flight operations. On 12 January 2012, following the conclusion of the long-term trial, Lufthansa flew a Boeing 747 from Frankfurt to Washington DC using a mix of biofuel and regular jet fuel. This was the world’s first scheduled transatlantic flight powered by biofuel.



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