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On September 12th 1919 Queen Wilhelmina awarded the yet to be launched airline its Royal designation enabling it to be called Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij or KLM upon its foundation by Albert Plesman on October 7th 1919.

The airline operated its first flight on May 17th 1920 when leased De Havilland DH-16 G-EALU flew from Croydon - Amsterdam Schipol. The airline began services with its own aircraft on April 4th 1921 using Fokker F-II and F-III aircraft. By 1926 the airline linked Amsterdam with Bremen, Brussels, Copenhagen, London, Malmo Paris and Rotterdam.

























Intercontinental flights commenced on October 1st 1924 with a Fokker F-VII operating from Amsterdam - Batavia (now Jakarta). Trans-Atlantic flights commenced in December 1934 with a Fokker F-XVIII service from Amsterdam - Curacao.


The airline was forced to suspend regular operations during the Second World War but many of its aircraft were active. KLM aircraft and crew flew a regular Bristol - Lisbon service on behalf of BOAC. One aircraft, Douglas DC-3 PH-ALI, flying as G-AGBB was attacked three times by the Luftwaffe whilst flying these missions, finally being downed in the Bay of Biscay with the loss of 17 lives whilst flying Lisbon - Bristol on June 1st 1943. Other aircraft were active in Australia and Indonesia transporting people under threat of Japanese invasion.


KLM resumed Domestic services in September 1945. Trans-Atlantic services recommenced the following year with a Douglas DC4 service to New York.


A new service was opened from Amsterdam - Anchorage - Tokyo in 1957 by Douglas DC-7s.


The first jet aircraft arrived in the shape of Douglas DC-8 in May 1960. This was followed by the twin engined DC-9 in 1966.


On September 12th 1966 the airline formed NLM (Netherlands Airlines) which was later to be named NLM Cityhopper.


The first Boeing 747-200 arrived in February 1971. KLM was the first airline to operate the higher gross weight 747-200B.


KLM was involved in the deadliest accident in aviation history on March 27th 1977 when Boeing 747-206B PH-BUF collided in heavy fog on the runway at Tenerife North with Pan Am Boeing 747-121 N736PA. A Spanish report blamed the KLM Captain for the accident, a conclusion that Dutch Authorities were reluctant to accept.


1995 saw the formation of wholly owned subsidiary KLM Asia, registered in Taiwan. This airline flies routes to and via Taipei without compromising KLM’s traffic rights to destinations in mainland China. KLM Asia initially operated Boeing 747-400s in a revised livery without the KLM Crown logo. However in 2012 six Boeing Boeing 777-200ERs replaced the Boeing 747-400s on KLM Asia routes.

Aircraft orders were placed in 2002 for thee Boeing 747-400ER freighters, ten Boeing 777-200Ers and six Airbus A330-200s. The first Boeing 777-200ER arrived on October 25th 2003 and began service on the Amsterdam - Toronto route.

On May 5th 2004 KLM was merged with Air France to form the AIR FRANCE KLM group. This hastened KLM and NorthWest’s membership of the SkyTeam alliance from September that year.

On November 28th 2004 Boeing 737-406 PH-BTC was written off in a landing accident at Barcelona. The aircraft was operating KL1673 Amsterdam - Barcelona and encountered a bird strike around the nose wheel landing gear just prior to take off from Amsterdam. With no abnormal indications the flight continued to Barcelona where on landing the aircraft pulled to the left and left the runway, sustaining severe damage when hitting building works. There were no fatalities.

Flying Dutchman was replaced by Flying Blue in July 2005, this is a joint Air France/KLM frequent flyer scheme.

The first Airbus A330-200 arrived on August 25th 2005 and entered service on the Amsterdam - Washington route.

The Boeing 777-300ER joined the fleet in 2008 with KLM choosing to configure the aircraft with high density 3-4-3 economy seating rather than the 3-3-3 layout found on the Boeing 777-200ERs.

The Open Skies treaty between the EU and the US came into effect on May 30th 2008 allowing airlines unrestricted access to operate services from any EU airport to any US airport. On May 23rd 2008 the US Department of Transportation granted anti-trust immunity to Air France, KLM, Delta Airlines and NorthWest Airlines to co-ordintate their trans-Atlantic activities.

On December 31st 2008 KLM became 100% owner of Martinair. This was followed on January 12th 2009 by Air France-KLM taking a 25% stake in Alitalia.

Turboprop services ended on March 30th 2010 with the final flight of the Fokker 50.

Agreement was reached with Insel Air for through ticketing of KLM passengers via St Maarten or Curacao to all Insel Air Caribbean destinations.

The first Airbus A330-300 arrived in 2012 initially entering service on the Amsterdam - Dubai and Amsterdam - Lagos routes.








In 1980 KLM reached agreement with Boeing to stretch the upper deck of some of its Boeing 747-200s giving them the outer appearance of the later 747-300 series.


In January 1988 KLM took a majority stake in London Stansted based UK airline AirUK and quickly re-branded as KLMuk. In 2000 KLMuk formed the low cost carrier Buzz. This was sold to Ryanair in 2003 with the remaining KLMuk operations being merged into KLM Cityhopper.


In March 1988 KLM took over Netherlines European Commuter and merged this with NLM Cityhopper on April 1st 1991 to form KLM Cityhopper.


The first Boeing 747-400 arrived in June 1989.


In July 1989 the airline took a 20% stake in US Carrier Northwest Airlines. The two airlines were granted anti-trust immunity by the US Department of transportation in January 1993 allowing the two to begin operating all their flights between Europe and the USA as a joint venture later that year.


In April 2001 Maastricht based Air Exel began a franchise operation as KLMExel.  This agreement terminated in November 2004 shortly before Air Exel’s Chief Executive Officer was arrested on charges of fraud, blackmail and money laundering.


In October 1991 KLM increased its stake in charter carrier TransAvia to 80%.


Flying Dutchman, Europe’s first frequent flyer loyalty programme was founded in December 1991.


The new World Business Class cabin was introduced in May 1994 replacing First Class on KLM intercontinental services. The small Delft Blue houses, which KLM began presenting to First Class passengers in 1952 therefore began to be presented instead to Business Class passengers. These jenever filled houses are representations of historic houses in the Netherlands or its dependencies. As of 2010 there were 93 different houses, and currently a new house is introduced on October 7th each year to mark the anniversary of the airline’s foundation. On flights to Islamic countries empty Delft Blue houses are presented.


In July 1995 the Boeing 767-300ER was added to the fleet.


At the beginning of 1996 KLM took a 26% stake in Kenya Airways.