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 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 September 2018, KLM’s fleet included 120 airliners, mostly Boeing aircraft. Another 19 airliners are on order. The airline has approximately 32,000 employees.
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. Swopesby