Airfares around the world are set to fall by 3.5 per cent this year, according to a new forecast by the International Air Transport Association.

At its annual conference in Doha, Qatar, the IATA said Monday it expects airlines to make a profit of $18 billion, down from an earlier forecast of $18.7 billion.

While that sounds impressive, IATA director Tony Tyler said at the conference that it amounts to an average of just "$6 per passenger."

The lower forecast is due to concerns over economic growth in China, and political risks worldwide.

MH370 'must not happen again'

In the wake of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the airline industry has begun to draft new recommendations to improve global tracking of flights.

Tyler said new recommendations will be presented before the UN International Civil Aviation Organization in September. Experts from both the IATA and ICAO will make recommendations.

Tyler said an incident like the March 8 disappearance of the Malaysian plane with 239 people aboard "must not happen again."

Despite the loss of MH370, Tyler hailed the safety record of the industry, saying last year "there were 29 million flights with Western-built jet aircraft and only 12 hull losses," a record they are hoping to improve upon.

100 years of commercial flight

The conference marks 100 years after the first commercial aircraft flew passengers across Florida’s Tampa Bay.

On Jan. 1, 1914, the first commercial aircraft flew from St. Petersburg to Tampa, a distance of 20 miles. The cost of a round-trip ticket was $10, with one lucky passenger paying $400 to sit next to the pilot.

This year, the airline industry will carry 3.3 billion passengers and 52 million tons of cargo over 50,000 routes.

IATA represents 240 airlines, carrying 84 per cent of all passengers and cargo worldwide.

With files from The Associated Press and Reuters