The world’s oldest airlines

Radar, essential for flight tracking, has been around since the 1940s – but some airlines flying today have been around even longer. People have been enjoying the speed and convenience of air travel with these senior citizens of the sky for almost a century.

KLM: the oldest of them all

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the flag carrier of the Netherlands, is rapidly closing in on its hundredth birthday. The airline was founded in 1919 and made its first flight – from London to Amsterdam – the following year. The crown in KLM’s logo has been present for its entire history.

KLM Airplane

Qantas: the “flying kangaroo”

Known for its famous red and white logo, this airline’s unusual name has sometimes confused passengers. In fact, it’s simply a shortening of its original name: Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services. Quite a mouthful; no wonder they’d shortened it by the 1930s!

Qantas Airplane

Aeroflot: Russian icon

The one-time symbol of the Soviet Union was founded in 1923, but adopted its current name in the 1930s. It was once the world’s largest airline, its fleet dwarfing those of British Airways or Lufthansa, but it’s shaped up and slimmed down since the end of communist rule.

Aeroflot Airplane

Tajik Air: a real pioneer

When the first Tajik Air service landed in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, in 1924, it caused quite a stir. Remarkably, it was the only motorised vehicle to be seen, since neither modern roads nor even railways had yet reached the city!

Delta: from little acorns…

The oldest airline in the United States started out as a crop-dusting service in 1924, beginning passenger flights five years later. Its success was such that by 2013, it was carrying more scheduled passengers than any other airline on the planet. No more crop-dusters, though!

Delta Airplane

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