The world’s oldest airline, KLM, turns 100 today

Oct 7, 2019

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Dutch flag carrier KLM is celebrating its 100th anniversary Monday, making it one of the oldest airlines in the world and the oldest still flying under its original name.

KLM, short for Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij — “royal air transport company” in Dutch — was founded Oct. 7, 1919, though its first flight didn’t take to the skies until May 17, 1920.

Since then, KLM has become a major part of the international airline landscape, connecting far-flung destinations from its hub in Amsterdam. It serves about 165 destinations from Schiphol airport (AMS) today. It’s now part of the Air France-KLM group, after their 2004 merger, and a member of the SkyTeam alliance with Delta Air Lines. Air France-KLM’s frequent flyer program, Flying Blue, is probably the best tool to find award availability on SkyTeam carriers.

From Amsterdam, the airline serves the US with a mix of airplanes including the Airbus A330 and Boeing 777, 787 and even 747; it’s one of the few airlines that still operate the latter.

KLM has also been a social-media pioneer, and is known for videos that feature cute dogs.

As the airline looks to its next 100 years, it’s trying to stay on the cutting edge of of aviation technology, experimenting with more sustainable fuel sources and the “flying V” experimental fuselage.

Featured photo by Alberto Riva/TPG.

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