With its 95-year history, KLM is the oldest international airline still flying under its original name. How many other pioneer carriers can say the same? Here’s the 10 oldest airlines in a row for you.
Nr 1. KLM
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines was founded in 1919. In 1920, pilot Jerry Shaw captained the first KLM flight, flying from London to Schiphol in a De Havilland DH-16. The KLM Group, which includes the wholly owned subsidiaries KLM Cityhopper, transavia.com and Martinair, currently employs more than 32.000 people.
Nr 2. Qantas
Qantas was established in Australia in 1920. The first flight took place in 1922 with an Armstrong Whitworth FK8 flying from Longreach to Cloncurry in Australia. Today, Qantas has a workforce of 35.000.
Nr 3. Czech Airlines
Czechoslovak State Airlines was established in 1923 and has been operating under the name Czech Airlines since 1995. Its first flight was a 321-kilometre trip with an Aero A-14 (Brandenburg) biplane in 1923. Today, Czech Airlines has 1,017 employes.
Nr 4. Lufthansa
Lufthansa was established in 1926, following a merger between Deutsche Aero Lloyd (DAL) and Junkers Luftverkehr. It operated its first flight in that same year with a Fokker F-11, taking off from Berlin-Tempelhof for Zurich. In 1953, Aktiengesellschaft für Luftverkehrsbedarf (LUFTAG) acquired the Deutsche Lufthansa brand name and thereafter operated under that name. Lufthansa is a superpower in the airline industry, with 117,000 employees and numerous subsidiaries including Air Dolomiti, Swiss International Airlines, Eurowings, Augsburg Airways and Contact Air.
Nr 5. Iberia
Iberia was established in 1927. Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana, operated its first flight that same year from Madrid to Barcelona with a Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland. Iberia merged with British Airways in 2011 and today employs a workforce of 18,000.
Nr 6. Delta
Delta Air Lines was formed in 1928 and today has 80,000 employees. Its head office is located in Atlanta. Delta’s first passenger flight took place in 1929 with a Travel Air S-6000B, flying from Dallas to Monroe. Delta merged with Northwest Airlines in 2010 and participated in a joint venture with Air France, KLM and Alitalia.
Nr. 7 Aeroflot
Aeroflot was founded in 1932 in Russia (then the Soviet Union) as Grazhdansky Vozdushny Flot (‘civil aviation’). Aeroflot was formed through a partnership between three airlines: Dobrolet, Zakavia and Ukrvozdukhput. Dobrolet operated its first flight from Morcow to Nizhiny Novgorod in 1923. The Aeroflot head office is located in Moscow. The Aeroflot Group has a workforce of over 30,000. Its current subsidiaries include Aurora, Donavia, Dobrolet, Rossiya Airlines and Orenair.
Nr. 8 Air France
Air France was extablished in 1933, following a merger between the five French airlines Air Union, Air Orient, Société Générale de Transport Aérien (SGTA), CIDNA and Aéropostale. SGTA’s first flight took place in 1919, with a Farman F.60 ‘Goliath’ Flying from Toussus-le-Noble to Kenley (near Croydon in the UK). Air France has its head office in Paris. In 2004, Air France became part of the AIR France KLM group. It currently has a workforce of over 69,000 people.
Nr. 9 American Airlines
American Airlines was founded in 1934, when its predecessors Aviation Corporation and American Airways formed a partnership. It operated its first cargo flight (mail) from Chicago to Saint Louis in 1926, with a DH-4 biplane. American Airlines is based in Fort Worth, Texas, and has 80,987 employees. In 2013, American Airlines merged with US Airways Group and continued under the name American Airlines Group.
Nr. 10 Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus was founded in 1936. The airline had only one aircraft at the time, named ‘iolar’ (Eagle). The first flight operated with the iolar was from Baldonnel in Dublin to Bristol UK in 1936. The present Aer Lingus head office is located at Dublin Airport. Aer Lingus has a workforce of 4,000.Illustrations: Allan Grotjohann Source: Wolkenridder Magazine