Tag Archives: Albert Plesman

7 October 1919

Anthony Plesman
Albert Plesman, founder of Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V. (KLM)

7 October 1919: Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V., operating under the name KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, was founded on 7 October 1919 by Albert Plesman, making it the oldest carrier in the world still operating under its original name, though the company stopped operating during the Second World War—apart from the operations in the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean.

The Airco DH.16, G-EALU, with which KLM flew its first scheduled passeneger service.
KLM flew its first scheduled passenger service with this Airco DH.16, G-EALU, from Croydon to Amsterdam, 17 May 1920. (Unattributed)

The first KLM flight was on 17 May 1920, from Croydon Airport, London, to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, carrying two British journalists and a number of newspapers. It was flown by an Airco DH.16, registration G-EALU, piloted by Henry (“Jerry”) Shaw.¹ This airplane, named Arras, was leased from Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited, a British company. Shaw was that company’s chief pilot.

In 1920 KLM carried 440 passengers and 22 tons of freight. In 1921 KLM started scheduled services.

As of December 2022, KLM’s fleet included 107 airliners, mostly Boeing aircraft. The airline has approximately 35,000 employees.

A KLM Boeng 787 Dreamliner. (KLM)
A KLM Boeing 787 Dreamliner. (KLM)

¹ Please see Henry “Jerry” Shaw (1892–1977), an article by Katy Whitaker, English Heritage, 2014, at Britain from Above: http://britainfromabove.org.uk/sites/default/files/Shaw_Final.pdf

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes