Oldest Airlines in the World That Are Still Operating

A Delta Airlines flight.
A Delta Airlines flight.

The concept of air travel was conceived by many outstanding inventors including Leonardo da Vinci and his dream of flight which paved the way for the establishment of modern aerodynamics. Centuries later after many attempts the Wright Brothers built the first working aircraft known as Wright Flyer and helped in the progression of aeronautical engineering. Since the invention of the first flight by the Wright Brothers, the world has seen many airlines come and go. The first commercial passenger airline traces its roots back to 1913 but the majority of the oldest airlines in the world were established between the 1920's and 1930's in some countries across the world. Although some of these airlines have closed, there are a few still surviving that have more than 90 years of flying history.

The World's Oldest Operating Airlines


The Royal Dutch Airlines legally known as Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij or KLM is the national airline of the Netherlands. KLM was established in 1919 making it the world's oldest operating airline. The airline still operates under its original name scheduling passengers and cargo services to about 130 destinations. The headquarters of KLM is in the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. As of 2013, the airline had 32, 505 employees. The first KLM flight took off on May 17th, 1920. Jerry Shaw was the first KLM flying pilot from the Croydon Airport in London to Amsterdam.


Avianca whose acronym is Spanish for Aerovías del Continente Americano has been the national airline of Colombia since December 5th, 1919, when it was founded under the name SCADTA. Avianca is one of the largest and most prestigious airlines in South America, and its headquarters are based in Bogotà, DC and its central hub at Eldorado International Airport. Avianca is the second oldest airline in the world after KLM and the oldest operating airline in the Americas.


Qantas Airways is the national airline of Australia and the largest by international flights, fleet size, and international destinations. Qantas was founded in Winton, Queensland on November 16th, 1920, making it the world's third oldest airline after KLM and Avianca. Qantas is an acronym for Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services and is also known as The Flying Kangaroo which is a reference to its logo. The airline whose headquarters is based in the Sydney Airport commenced international passenger flights in May 1935. Qantas is also the oldest continuously operating airline in the world after KLM suspended their services during World War II.

Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines is a preeminent American Airline whose headquarters and biggest hub is located at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. Delta airline was founded in 1924 as crop dusting operating in Macon-Georgia making it the sixth-oldest operating airline in the world by founding date and also the oldest operating airline in the United States. Delta Airlines started passenger services on June 17th, 1920, and is currently operating more than 5,400 flights a day to 319 destinations in six continents and 54 countries.

Egypt Air

Egypt Air is the national airline of Egypt whose headquarters and the main hub are based at the Cairo International Airport. The airline was founded on June 7th, 1932, but commenced its operations in July 1933 and currently schedules passenger and cargo services to more than 75 destinations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, and the Americas. As of December 2014, Egypt Air had approximately 9,000 employees.

Modern Passenger Planes

Since the Wright brothers made the first flight, the aviation industry has evolved to develop huge and highly sophisticated aircraft that move at astonishing speeds. For instance, the Airbus A380 is among the largest passenger planes with cabin floor of 5,920 square feet and can carry 525 passengers in a three-class configuration or unto 853 passengers in all economy classes and can cruise at speeds of up to 560 miles per hour.

Oldest Airlines in the World That Are Still Operating

RankAirline NameCountryYear Founded
1KLMThe Netherlands1919
5Czech AirlinesCzechia1923
7Delta AirlinesUnited States1924
8Tajik AirTajikistan1924
9Grand Canyon AirlinesUnited States1927
10Air SerbiaSerbia1927
12Wiggins AirwaysUnited States1929
13LOT Polish AirlinesPoland1929
14Hawaiian AirlinesUnited States1929
15LAN AirlinesChile1929
18TACAEl Salvador1931
19Air IndiaIndia1932
20Alaska AirlinesUnited States1932
22Air FranceFrance1933
24South African AirwaysSouth Africa1934
262nd Arkhangelsk United Aviation DivisionRussia1935
27Aer LingusIreland1936
28LAM Mozambique AirlinesMozambique1936

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