List of airlines by foundation date

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This is a list of airlines by foundation date, founded before December 31, 1929.

The date of the first airline service may differ from the foundation date. Bold names indicate that the airline is still in operation.

Airline Established Ceased operations Notes
German Empire DELAG November 16, 1909 March 21, 1935 The world's first airline in revenue service. Operated Zeppelin airships. Merged with Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei (DZR) in 1935, which continued transatlantic flights until the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. Company dissolved in 1940.
Hungary Aero Rt. December 22, 1910 1920 Merged with Magyar Aeroforgalmi Rt (MAEFORT)
United States St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line 1913 1914 First winged airline. See Thomas Reilly, Jannus: An American Flyer
United Kingdom Aircraft Transport and Travel October 5, 1916 1921 Services started 25 August 1919; first scheduled daily international commercial air service, London to Paris. A subsidiary of Airco, its assets were used to create Daimler Airway
United States Chalk's Ocean Airways 1917 2007 Started scheduled service between Florida and the Bahamas in February 1919; Became Chalk's International Airlines.
German Empire Deutsche Luft-Reederei December 1917 1923 Services started February 5, 1919. Became part of Deutscher Aero Lloyd in 1923, merged into Deutsche Luft Hansa in 1926. Founding member of International Air Traffic Association in 1919.
Norway Det Norske Luftfartsrederi 1918 1921 Founding member of IATA
Denmark Danish Air Lines October 29, 1918 1946 Services started August 7, 1920. Part of SAS since 1946.
France Société des lignes Latécoère December 25, 1918 1932 Services started December 25, 1918; rebranded as Aéropostale in 1927; its assets were incorporated into Air France in 1933
Sweden Svenska Lufttrafik February 7, 1919 1921 Services started 7 August 1920
France Lignes Aériennes Farman February 8, 1919 October 7, 1933 Merged with 4 other airlines to form Air France.
France Grands Express Aériens March 20, 1919 January 1, 1923 Merged with Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes to form Air Union.
France Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes April 18, 1919 January 1, 1923 Merged with Grands Express Aériens to form Air Union.
United Kingdom Daimler Airway June 7, 1919 1924 Merged with 3 other airlines to form Imperial Airways.
Colombia Compañía Colombiana de Navegación Aérea CCNA September 26, 1919[1] 1921 First airline in Colombia with mail contract with Colombian Government.
Netherlands KLM October 7, 1919 Still in operation Operations stopped during World War II (in Europe) apart from the operations in the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean. Merged with Air France in 2004. The airline is the "Oldest operating airline by date".
Colombia Avianca December 5, 1919 Still in operation Originally founded as Colombo-German Air Transport Society, or SCADTA. Merged with SACO on June 14, 1940 and then renamed to Avianca. "Oldest operating airline in the Americas".
United Kingdom Handley Page Transport 1919 March 31, 1924 Merged with 3 other airlines to form Imperial Airways.
United Kingdom Instone Air Line 1919 1924 Merged with 3 other airlines to form Imperial Airways.
Norway Aero January 1920 1921 Merged with Norske Aeroplanfabrik
France/Romania Compagnie Franco-Roumaine de Navigation Aérienne April 23, 1920 1933 Merged with 4 other airlines to form Air France.
Australia QANTAS November 16, 1920 Still in operation Holds title of "Second oldest operating Airline by Years in service"[2] After KLM.
Estonia Aeronaut March 22, 1921 January 11, 1927 Operated the routes: Tallinn-Helsinki, Tallinn-Stockholm, Tallinn-Riga-Königsberg and Tallinn-Tartu-Viljandi-Pärnu. Stopped operations in 1927 due to financial problems.
Poland Aerotarg May 21, 1921 1921 Operated only on the route between Warsaw and Poznań
Mexico Mexicana July 12, 1921 August 28, 2010 Suspended operations indefinitely. MRO still operational.
Australia West Australian Airways December 5, 1921 June 12, 1936 Became part of Australian National Airways.
United States Aeromarine West Indies Airways 1921 1924 Services started 1 November 1920; first U.S. international air service
Weimar Republic Junkers Luftverkehr 1921 1926 A division of the aircraft manufacturer Junkers; became a separate company in 1924; merged into Deutsche Luft Hansa in 1926; joint-ventures with airlines in Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland
Poland Aerolloyd September 1922 December 29, 1929 Merged with other privately owned airlines in Poland and eventually formed LOT Polish Airlines.[3]
Hungary Malert November 19, 1922 1944 Fore-runner of Malev Hungarian Airlines.
France Air Union January 1, 1923 October 7, 1933 Merged with 4 other airlines to form Air France.
Soviet Union/Russia Aeroflot February 9, 1923 Still in operation
Belgium SABENA May 23, 1923 February 2002 Succeeded by SN Brussels Airlines. MRO still operational.
United Kingdom British Marine Air Navigation Co Ltd August 1923 1924 Merged with 3 other airlines to form Imperial Airways.
Czechoslovakia Czech Airlines October 6, 1923 Still in operation Founded as Czechoslovak State Airlines, name changed to Czech Airlines in 1995.
Finland Finnair November 1, 1923 Still in operation Founded as Aero O/Y, name changed to Finnair in 1968.
Soviet Union Zakavia 1923 1925
United Kingdom Imperial Airways 1924 1939 Amalgamated to form British Overseas Airways Corporation - itself merged to found British Airways.
United States Delta Air Lines May 30, 1924 Still in operation Founded as Huff Daland Dusters for crop dusting, renamed 'Delta Air Service' in 1928, operated scheduled services from 1928 to 1930 and since 1934, Oldest operating airline in the United States.
Sweden AB Aerotransport June 2, 1924 1950 Formed SAS.
Soviet Union/Tajikistan Tajik Air September 3, 1924 Still in operation
France CIDNA January 1, 1925 October 7, 1933 The former company - CFRNA (French-Romanian Company For Air Navigation) was the first international transcontinental company. Incorporated into Air France.
Poland Aero February 1925 December 31, 1928 Merged with other privately owned airlines in Poland and eventually formed LOT Polish Airlines.
Bolivia Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano September 15, 1925 April 1, 2007 Airline is going to be replaced with Boliviana de Aviación.
Spain Unión Aérea Española 1925 1929 Merged with Concesionaria de Líneas Aéreas Subvencionadas following Wall Street Crash of 1929.
United States Western Air Express 1925 September 9, 1986 Merged with Transcontinental Air Transport to form Transcontinental & Western Air in 1930; severed from T & WA again in 1934; merged with Delta Air Lines in 1986.
Weimar Republic Deutsche Luft Hansa January 6, 1926 1945 Name styles as Deutsche Lufthansa from 1933. Operations suspended following the German defeat in World War II. There is no legal connection to Lufthansa, which was founded in 1953.
Canada Western Canadian Airways March 1926 1930 Amalgamated with several Eastern Canadian carriers forming Canadian Airways.
United States Varney Airlines April 6, 1926 1934 Merged with National Air Transport to form United Airlines following the Air Mail scandal in 1933 and the Air Mail Act of 1934. In 1934 Varney Speed Lines was established becoming Continental Airlines in 1936 when Robert Six took over control.
United States Eastern Air Lines April 19, 1926 January 18, 1991 Started Operations in 1926 as (Pitcairn Aviation). Until 1929 changed to "Eastern Air Transport" now Eastern Air Lines until 1991.
United States Northwest Airlines 1926 January 31, 2010 Merged with Delta Air Lines.
United States Colonial Air Transport 1926 1930 Formed American Airlines.
United States Pan American World Airways March 14, 1927 December 4, 1991 Founded by Juan T. Trippe and began operations in 1927 as Pan American Airways (PAA). Former flag carrier of United States. Bankrupted in 1991 due to: high fuel prices because of the first Gulf War and 1973 oil crisis; a series of hijackings; no US network until the 1980s; the Lockerbie bombing of flight 103.
Brazil Varig May 7, 1927 July 20, 2006 New airline formed with the same name in 2006 and eventually sold to Gol Transportes Aéreos.
Kingdom of Yugoslavia/Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia/Serbia Air Serbia June 17, 1927 Still in operation formed as Aeroput in 1927, then re-formed as JAT - Jugoslovenski aerotransport in 1947, then Jat Airways in 2003, and then Air Serbia in 2013.
Spain Iberia June 28, 1927 Still in operation Merged with British Airways to form International Airlines Group in January 2011
Brazil Cruzeiro do Sul December 1, 1927 January 1, 1993 Founded as Syndicato Condor. Name changed to Cruzeiro do Sul in 1943. Merged with Varig.
Dutch East Indies/Indonesia KNILM July 16, 1928 August 1, 1947 First operated as KNILM. KNILM dissolved and transferred to KLM Interinsulair Bedrijf (today Garuda Indonesia)
Brazil ETA August 10, 1928 November 16, 1929 Ceased operations due to administrative difficulties.
Peru Faucett Perú September 15, 1928 1997
United States Transcontinental Air Transport 1928 December 1, 2001 Merged with Western Air Express to form Transcontinental & Western Air (T & WA) in 1930; renamed Trans World Airlines (TWA) in 1950; merged into American Airlines in 2001.
Poland LOT Polish Airlines January 1, 1929 Still in operation Linie Lotnicze LOT created by the Polish government to replace PLL Aerolot and SA Aero.
Hawaii/United States Hawaiian Airlines January 30, 1929 Still in operation Incorporated January 30, 1929 as Inter-Island Airways. Began service October 6, 1929. Name changed to Hawaiian Airlines October 1, 1941.
Chile LAN Airlines March 5, 1929 Still in operation Began as Línea Aeropostal Santiago-Arica. It took the name Línea Aérea Nacional de Chile (LAN Chile) in 1932. In September 1989, the Chilean government privatized the carrier.
Spain Concesionaria de Líneas Aéreas Subvencionadas May 13, 1929 July 18, 1936 Ceased operations due to the Spanish Civil War.
Venezuela Aeropostal July 3, 1929 Still in operation Founded as Linea Aeropostal Venezolana LAV, name changed to Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela in 1997 after privatization.
Brazil Panair do Brasil October 22, 1929 February 16, 1965 Founded as Nyrba do Brasil. Name changed to Panair do Brasil in 1930. Bankruptcy forced by the Brazilian Government.


  1. ^ "Noventa Años de Aviación Civil en Colombia". El portal de la Aviación en Colombia. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Transformation Continues, Qantas Data Book 2013" (PDF). Qantas. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  3. ^ [1]