KLM the world’s oldest airline

posted on 7th October 2019 by Eddie Saunders
KLM the world's oldest airline

As of 7 October 2019,  KLM becomes the first airline to celebrate its legitimate 100th birthday. Last week the airline’s president and CEO Pieter Elbers was at the residency of the Dutch ambassador Simon Smits to start the celebrations. 

KLM was established in 1919 with the royal support of Queen Wilhelmina and the initial investment of half a million pounds. This led to KLM’s first commercial flight which departed Croydon for Amsterdam on 17 May 1920.

The aircraft, leased by KLM, was flown by the British pilot Jerry Shaw, carrying two British journalists and Times newspapers. In 1920, KLM carried just 440 passengers – a far cry from the 34.4m passengers it flew in 2018.

Cooperation with other airlines, such as Air UK, was always at the basis of their ambition to create a global network. Today, the UK is the country with the most departure points in the KLM global network.

“next to our great staff, it’s also about investing in our product.” Pieter Elbers – President and CEO of KLM.

He details that while the focus on partners is deeply rooted in the airline’s past, it is also a very important part of their current and future strategy.

Air France-KLM was recently ranked number one in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. This is the 15th consecutive year that the Group is placed at the top end of the rankings.

“KLM are always looking for ways to further reduce our impact on the environment. Some examples include fleet renewal, the development of Europe’s first sustainable aviation fuel plant and our partnership with the Technical University in Delft to build a plane for the future. But this is not enough and sustainability is not a one-airline topic.” says Elbers

“this is why, with our recent Fly Responsibly initiative, we have called upon all stakeholders across the industry to collaborate.

“We have offered our Gold Standard C02 offsetting programme to other airlines free of charge and free of branding to encourage more people to offset their flight emissions. Sustainability, like safety, is a topic which airlines cannot compete on, we need to work together towards a more sustainable future.”