KLM Royal Dutch Airlines – The oldest airline in the world

10:26:00 - January 21, 2022


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    KLM (abbreviation of Koninklijke Luchtvaartmaatschappij NV, meaning Royal Aviation Company in Dutch) was founded on October 7, 1919, by 8 Dutch businessmen. This is the world’s oldest airline still operating under its original name. KLM is headquartered in Amstelveen, with its hub located at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

    KLM’s first flight took off on May 17, 1920, flying from London to Amsterdam. Passengers on the first flight were two journalists with a letter from the Mayor of London to his counterpart in Amsterdam and a stack of newspapers.

    In 1920, the airline opened a new route to Copenhagen, via Hamburg. By 1923, the route to Brussels began to be operated. In 1924, KLM began operating the first intercontinental test flight to Batavia (now Jakarta).T

    KLM’s first aircraft, Fokker F.II


    KLM’s activities gradually developed with milestones in the history of the airline as well as the global airline industry. In May 1921, KLM opened its first ticket office in Leidseplein, Amsterdam and it was the first of its kind in the world.

    In September 1930, the airline began operating the first scheduled intercontinental flights to Batavia. KLM gradually increased the frequency of flights from 1 flight/week to 3 flights/week and this was the longest air route in the world at that time.

    KLM Fokker F-XVIII departing from the Dutch East Indies, 1932 (Photo Credit – National Museum of World Cultures)

    When World War II broke out, KLM had to downsize its business in Europe and focus on the West Indies market. After World War II, KLM began to rebuild and expand strongly. In 1945, KLM started with domestic routes, added some European destinations later in the year, and reopened flights between Amsterdam and Indonesia. In 1946, KLM was the first European airline to operate flights between Continental Europe and the Americas, using Douglas DC-4 aircraft, with New York as the first destination.

    KLM gradually expands to more destinations globally. Now, the airline operates flights to 162 destinations worldwide, including 70 intercontinental destinations and 92 European destinations.

    KLM also expanded and continuously developed its fleet, using advanced aircraft of the time such as Douglas DC-8, Convair CV-240, Lockheed Constellation, Boeing 747, McDonnell Douglas DC-10, etc, which helped cut flight time and increase the number of passengers. The sight of KLM widebody planes landing on the beach at St Maarten became one of the most iconic and recognizable sights in the history of commercial aviation.

    McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30i, 1999 (Ảnh: Paul Spijkers)

    KLM continues to expand its global network with M&A deals with Northwest Airlines (1989), Air France (2004), and joining the SkyTeam Alliance (2004). KLM is also the first airline to introduce many new services to enhance the customer experience such as the loyalty program “Flying Blue” combined with Air France, the introduction of the world’s first self-service transfer kiosk, allowing passengers transferring at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to print their boarding passes quickly and simply.

    In addition, KLM is also committed and dedicated to sustainability-related issues, surpassing major international airlines to become the best airline in terms of energy-efficient flights. In 2011, KLM operated the first biofuel-powered scheduled flight to Paris. In 2013, KLM operated its first biofuel-powered intercontinental flights to New York. In January 2022, the airline began adding 0.5% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to flights departing from Amsterdam, and it also announced it would use 10% of sustainable aviation fuel by 2030.

    KLM Royal Dutch Airlines – The oldest airline in the world


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