It has constantly been putting profound efforts in the field of improving standard of accounting practices, cost, operating profit and loss statements and similar documents, to make possible the application of electronic data processing techniques. The Financial Committee also carries extensive studies on special insurance problems, taxation charges and similar matters.
IATA’s financial activities are performed by the IATA Clearing House at Geneva, through which the airlines can settle their monthly accounts for inter-line revenue transaction. It enables them to collect and pay their worldwide debts simultaneously and by a single cash settlement in dollars or convertible sterling, regardless of the number and nature of national currencies involved.
According to the IATA manual, the Clearing House eliminates the necessity for cash payment of all but a small amount of the total value of all the monthly claims. It assures regular and punctual settlements of inter-line debts, eliminates much correspondence and saves substantial foreign exchange expenses. Moreover, it helps in protection of currency devaluations.
2. Legal Activities:
The Legal Committee of IATA deals with international laws (as representative of members) such as international conventions, air law, conflicts of law and arbitration.
Practically, it is concerned with formulating and representing the airlines’ views on the basic international conventions affecting the liability of air carriers, legal relationship with customers, with third parties, rights in international operations, legal aspects of the carriage of nuclear materials and other related legislations.
Since the sale of an Airline ticket or the issuance of a cargo bill constitutes a contract between the airlines and the customer. Therefore, international documents must be legally valid under relevant systems of laws.
The IATA Legal Committee is thus responsible for preparing the legal grounds on which the whole structure of standardized inter-line agreement and documentation, tickets, baggage checks, airway bills and the like has been erected.
One of its major achievements has been the realization of ‘standardized world-wide conditions of contract’ governing the carriage of cargo and passengers. Further, efforts to conceive detailed, uniform and effectively viable conditions of carriage for all aspects of air transport are in progress. If achieved, it will be the first such document in the history of Air-transportation.
3. Operational Activities:
The Operational Technical Committee is responsible for cooperation among the Members in terms of operational and technical matters. In fact, it streamlined the operational matters among the world’s airlines.
The IATA Technical Committee, therefore, is founded upon full and free exchange of information and experience between all the airlines. However, out of this data, the airlines select more relevant requirements and observations to bring standardization and unification in their own activities, to assist governments, and to act as sign posts along the road to future development in transport industry.
The committee has played and continues to play pivotal role in the drafting of guidelines, procedure standards and recommended practice which form the accepted international pattern for the technical regulation of civil aviation, and cooperates with
ICAO to encourage governments to implement them fully and keep them up-to-date. IATA works in much similar way such as other organizations – International Telecommunication Union, the World Meteorological Organization and the International Standards Organization.
Beyond this, member airlines, can join ICAO and individual states or with the countries comprising a particular region in the planning and implementation of air navigation facilities and services.
Generally, this work is carried out under the control of the IATA Technical Committee at global, regional and national level which deals with problems in all technical fields of air transport operations. Sometimes these technical and operational problems are solved by joint agreements with governments and other governing bodies.
4. Traffic Activities/Conferences:
As airline association, IATA is concerned with inter-line contracted arrangements – the standardization of forms, design, procedures, handling agreement and other activities which make possible the quick and easy exchange of traffic between airlines.
Apart from these many governments have delegated the responsibility to IATA for negotiating international agreements on international rates and fares subject to their approval. IATA has produced a series of inter-line agreements among international airlines, domestic airlines and sea carriers covering all phases of passenger, baggage and cargo handling reservations, codes and the like.
In November 1984, IATA formed two new corporate bodies namely Passenger Network Service Corporation and Cargo Network Service Corporation to meet the diverse needs of members and air transport industry.
The resulting structure of IATA Traffic Conference Agreement now comprises more than 5000 resolutions, including fares and rates between 80,000 pairs of points on its world wide network.
The agreements are normally worked out by the Traffic Advisory Committee and various expert working groups, often with the close assistance of other standing committees, and by the Traffic Director and his staff.
However, they have their actual application mainly through formal resolutions which are subject to the approval of governments before they can become effective. Thus, every IATA traffic action is the result of this unusually comprehensive and successful process of international agreement reached through the IATA Traffic Conferences.
For Administrative purposes IATA has divided the whole world into three areas, known as IATA Traffic Conference Areas:
i. Traffic Conference Area No. 1
Under this, all of the North and South American Continents and the islands adjacent thereto; Greenland, Bermuda, the West Indies and Islands of the Caribbean Sea; the Hawaiian Islands (including midway and Palmbra).
ii. Traffic Conference Area No. 2
It encompasses Europe (including earlier part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in Europe and the Islands adjacent thereto, Ascension island, the part of Asia lying West of and including Iran.
iii. Traffic Conference Area No. 3
This Traffic Conference area includes all of the Asia and the islands adjacent thereto except that portion included in Traffic Conference area No. 2; All of the East Indies, Australia, New Zealand, and the Islands adjacent thereto; the Islands of Pacific ocean except those included in Traffic Conference Area No. 1.
The Executive Committee has power to increase or decrease the number of Traffic Conference Areas, after the boundaries and determines the respective headquarters thereto.
5. Medical Activities:
The IATA Medical Committee is composed of medical officers and advisors of the airlines and deals with all physiological and psychological factors which might affect the safety, comfort and efficiency of air crews and passengers.
Particularly, the committee concerns with aircrafts, accommodation, water & food supplies, immunization, sewage disposal, and aircraft equipments etc. Further, the medical committee deals in preventive medicine, the result of which is best measured by the fact that infants, elderly persons and the severely ill can as a general rule safely travel long distances by air, irrespective of the speed(s) and altitudes of modern airline operation.
IATA has many other tasks outside its formal framework of the Committees and Conferences. Firstly, in postal services, IATA has become increasingly concerned with questions relating to the speedy and expeditious handling of the mails and the rates which are paid by governments of foreign airlines for the transportation of mail.
It maintains close liaison with the Universal Postal Union on these matters, and has consistently encouraged reduction in air mail postage rates for the benefit of general public.
Secondly, in an industry based on speed, economy and service, red tape is a serious matter. Coordination is more accurate at this stage; it starts with the airlines themselves. Strategies to cut red tape is worked out and constantly reviewed by the IATA Facilitation Advisory Group.
For implementation, it passes into the hands of more than 100 airline personnel at the headquarters of their respective airlines throughout the world. The next step is to consult with the various governmental inspection services in a cooperative effort, to work out simpler clearance documentation and procedures at airports where international passengers or cargo arrive and depart.
Cooperation carries right up the line from the individual nation to the United Nations and its specialized agencies, particularly ICAO which sets recommended standards and practices for governments for cutting red tape through its Conventions. Ever since both IATA and ICAO came into being, there has been constant collaboration.
Finally, numerous other international organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, cooperate with IATA to ensure the facilitation of air transport and to square against the aircraft’s particular vulnerability delay.
Furthermore, the IATA also performs many varied functions not only related to airlines but also to government, general public and the industry. It collects and issues industry statistics. It is a documentation centre and publisher on behalf of its members, issuing international manuals, tabulation of airline distances, technical survey reports, books, newsletters and other documents for the benefit of members.