The world’s longest running airlines

From KLM Royal Dutch to Iberia, Airport-technology.com ranks the world’s ten longest-running airlines based on the number of years the carriers have been in operation.


KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines: established in 1919

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines was originally founded as Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij voor Nederland en Koloniën (KLM) in October 1919. The company flew its first aircraft, which was a rented De Havilland DH-16, from London to Schiphol in May 1920.

KLM made its first transatlantic flight from Amsterdam to Curacao in December 1934. It has operated under the same name with AIR FRANCE KLM Group since the merger between KLM and Air France in 2004. The airline currently operates a fleet of 115 aircraft.

Avianca: established in 1919

The national airline and flag carrier of Colombia, Avianca, was founded in December 1919 as Society Colombo German Air Transport (SCADTA). The company is the oldest running airline in the Western Hemisphere.

SCADTA made its first flight from Barranquilla to Puerto Berrio in September 1920 and established the first international routes covering destinations in Venezuela and the US by the mid-1920s.

SCADTA merged with Colombian Air Service (SACO), forming National Aerovias de Colombia SA or Avianca in June 1940. TACA Airlines became part of Avianca following a merger in 2013. Avianca is now the commercial brand representing a group of seven independent Latin American airlines in Avianca Holdings.

Qantas Airlines

Qantas: established in 1920

Established as the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services (QANTAS) in 1920, the company commenced services using two biplanes, an Avro 504K and a BE2E. It has become Australia's biggest domestic and international airline, currently operating a fleet of approximately 122 aircraft.

The first scheduled airmail service was introduced between Charleville and Cloncurry by Qantas in November 1922, followed by the launch of commercial passenger services on the same route in 1924. The airline introduced its first Boeing 747 in September 1971 and launched the operations of a new low-cost domestic airline called Jetstar in May 2004.

Aeroflot: established in 1923

Aeroflot's origin dates back to March 1923 when the company was founded as DOBOROLET (The Russian Society for Voluntary Air Fleet). The nation's civil aviation service was officially named Aeroflot in February 1932.

Also known as Aeroflot Soviet Airlines, it introduced the world's first jet, the TU-104, on Russia's domestic and international routes in 1956. In the late-1950s, the company also used the world's biggest aircraft at the time, the TU-114.

It retained the name and trademark even after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Aeroflot is a Russian national carrier and the biggest airline with 163 aircraft, serving 123 destinations in 52 countries.

Czech Airlines

Czech Airlines: established in 1923

Founded as Czechoslovak State Airlines (CSA) in October 1923, Czech Airlines is one of the longest running carriers in Europe. The airline launched its first flight from Prague to Bratislava in the same year.

CSA became a member of IATA in 1929 and introduced the first international flight on the Prague - Zagreb route in 1930. The company began intercontinental air transport flights with the launch of the Cairo and Ankara route in 1947. Czech Airlines now operates 16 aircraft, including Airbus A330-300, A319-300, ATR72 and ATR42.

Finnair: established in 1923

Finland's biggest airline and flag carrier, Finnair, was founded in November 1923. It began operations with flights between Helsinki and New York in May 1969 and introduced direct flights to Bangkok in November 1976.

Finnair is the first Western European airline to operate a non-stop flight between Europe and China. Based at Helsinki Airport, the carrier currently operates 45 wide-bodied aircraft on scheduled flights to destinations in Asia, North America and the northern regions of Europe.

Delta Airlines

Delta Air Lines: established in1924

Delta Airlines originated as a commercial agricultural flying company called Huff Daland Dusters in 1924. Huff Daland made its first international mail and passenger flight from Lima to Paita, as well as Talara for Peruvian Airways in 1928.

The company was renamed Delta Air Service in 1928 and introduced its first passenger flights between Dallas and Jackson in 1929. It received the official corporate name Delta Air Lines in 1945. Delta's fleet comprises 621 aircraft, making it one of the world's biggest airlines.

Tajik Air: established in 1924

State-owned airline Tajik Air was originally called Tajikistan Airlines when founded in September 1924 in Dushanbe. The airline began scheduled flights when the air hub of Tajik for Central Asian air routes was established in 1930.

The airline operates regular flights to the Russian Federation, Kyrgyzstan (Bishkek), Kazakhstan (Almaty), Iran (Tehran), India (Delhi), China (Urumqi) and Turkey (Istanbul).

Air Serbia

Air Serbia: established in 1927

Air Serbia was founded as the Society for Air Transport AEROPUT in June 1927. It was liquidated in 1943 after the outbreak of the Second World War, only to resume its services under the new name Yugoslav Airlines in April 1947. The airline expanded its flights to 61 world destinations spanning five continents by the late-1980s.

Yugoslav Airlines was renamed Jat Airways in August 2003, which was later rebranded Air Serbia in October 2013. The Serb national carrier currently owns a fleet of 20 aircraft, including Airbus A 319, A 320, Boeing 737-300, ATR 72-200 and ATR 72-500.

Iberia: established in 1927

Founded in June 1927, Iberia launched its first commercial flight on the Madrid-Barcelona route in December 1927. The airline began operations with three aircraft and expanded services to London, Lisbon, Paris and Rome in Europe, and Buenos Aires and Montevideo in South America by the early 1940s.

Iberia performed an inaugural flight from Madrid to New York in August 1954 and added its first Boeing B-747 to the fleet in October 1970. British Airways and Iberia were merged to form a new company called International Airlines Group (IAG) in January 2011, with both companies continuing to operate under the same brand names. The Spanish flag carrier has a fleet of 76 aircraft, making it the country's biggest airline.