Wednesday, 27 February 2019

The Oldest Airline In The World

It was established in 1919, a full century ago – and is still operating under its original name! Set up at a time when horse carriages were the most common mode of transport in Europe and ox-carts reigned supreme in Asia, Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij is the oldest airline in the world.

KLM, as it usually known, literally means Royal Aviation Company in Dutch, with its ‘Royal’ designation granted that year by Queen Wilhelmina. The usual English translation is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.  As the national airline of The Netherlands, KLM pioneered several milestones in the early days of aviation.

From the very start, Asia was in its sights. In 1924, the first KLM plane departed for Batavia, the capital city of what was then the Dutch colony of Indonesia.  The journey to the metropolis now called Jakarta took weeks to complete. This route became part of KLM's regular scheduled service in 1929; and for more than a decade it remained the longest scheduled air-route in the world.

Along its way on that pioneering flight, the national flag-carrier of the Netherlands stopped in what was then known as Malaya; probably shocking the locals who could not imagine a machine flying in from the sky! KLM became one of the first airlines to have scheduled commercial flights into the country, and continues till this day to operate daily flights into Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of modern Malaysia.

In 1934, KLM reached the Americas for the first time, crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Curacao, an island in the Dutch Caribbean region off the coast of Venezuela. In 1946, KLM became the first European airline to start scheduled trans-Atlantic flights to New York. Today, the airline has direct flights from Schiphol to over 30 destinations across the Americas.    
As a modern and efficient airline of the 21st Century, KLM operates more than 168 planes to 165 destinations, including about 50 aircraft used for its Cityhopper regional operations. Its hub is at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Apart from Cityhopper, KLM has interests in several other airlines, including Kenya Airways, Martinair and Transavia. It employs about 31,000 people in the Netherlands, and nearly 4000 more in about 500 locations around the globe - the human dynamics of KLM - The Oldest Airline in The World!

                                                                                                      (Pix copyright unknown/KLM.)

No comments: