This month KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will celebrate 100 years in business. Founded in 1919, KLM is the first commercial airline that is still flying under its original name to reach this milestone in the world. A true pioneer in aviation, KLM is celebrating its centenary with its passengers across the globe, including Dublin from where the airline now offers up to six daily flights to Amsterdam Schiphol, offering connections to 165 destinations worldwide.
KLM’s first ever commercial flight was operated between London and Amsterdam on 17 May 1920 using a leased AT&T De Haviland DH-16. KLM’s first pilot, Gerry Shaw departed from London Croydon Airport carrying two British journalists and some newspapers. In 1920, KLM carried just 440 passengers – a far cry from the 34 million passengers carried per year today. In 1921, KLM scheduled services commenced between London and Amsterdam using Fokker aircraft.
Pieter Elbers, President and Chief Executive, KLM said: “The fact that we are celebrating our 100th anniversary is not just testimony to a century of successful enterprise, innovation, and commerce, but also to the faith that customers and partners have in KLM. We were the first airline to successfully pursue partnerships and alliances, after which many other countries and airlines followed our example.”
In Amsterdam, KLM launched a film that looks back at some of its remarkable history, while showing progress throughout the last ten decades, underlining the evolution of aviation and also that of society as a whole. Since KLM’s first commercial flight right up until today, the company has set its sight on progress. Throughout the years, KLM has brought the wonder of air travel to generations.
The film tracks KLM’s evolution from 1919 to the present day and features classic airplanes such as the Fokker F.II in 1934, the Douglas DC-4 in 1949, Boeing 747 in 1975 and ending with the brand-new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner. All brought to life with the authentic uniforms, props and details from each decade.
KLM also marked its centenary with a special book titled Welcome Aboard – 100 years of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The first copy was presented by KLM’s current Board of Managing Directors, Pieter Elbers, René de Groot and Erik Swelheim, to three former KLM presidents, Pieter Bouw, Leo van Wijk and Peter Hartman.
Since the 1950s, KLM has presented specially designed Delftware miniature houses to World Business Class passengers on intercontinental flights. The houses are replicas of monumental buildings throughout the Netherlands. Today KLM marked its anniversary with the presentation of this year’s miniature house; a moment eagerly awaited by faithful collectors all over the world. It is a replica of Huis ten Bosch Palace in The Hague, the home of King Willem-Alexander and his family.
KLM Celebrates 100 years in Business