List of airlines by foundation date

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a list of airlines by foundation date, founded before December 31, 1930.

The date of the first airline service may differ from the foundation date. Bold names and a light-green background indicate that the airline is still in operation, while yellow indicates a disputed claim.

Airline Established Ceased operations Country Notes
DELAG November 16, 1909 March 21, 1935  German Empire/ Weimar Republic 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 and re-established in 2001.
Aero Rt. December 22, 1910 1920  Hungary Merged with Magyar Aeroforgalmi Rt (MAEFORT) which in turn, merged with Magyar Legiforgalmi R.T. (MALERT) to form Maszovlet. Later Hungary acquired all the Soviet shares of Maszovlet and renamed it to Malév Hungarian Airlines.
St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line 1913 May 5, 1914  United States First winged airline. See Thomas Reilly, Jannus: An American Flyer
Aircraft Transport and Travel October 5, 1916 February 20, 1921  United Kingdom 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. Despite numerous takeovers and mergers, British Airways can trace part of its legacy back to Aircraft Transport and Travel.
Chalk's Ocean Airways 1917 2007  United States Started scheduled service between Florida and the Bahamas in February 1919; Became Chalk's International Airlines.
Deutsche Luft-Reederei December 1917 1923  German Empire/ Weimar Republic 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.
Det Norske Luftfartsrederi 1918 1921  Norway Founding member of IATA
Det Danske Luftfartselskab October 29, 1918 1951  Denmark Services started August 7, 1920. Part of SAS since 1946.
Société des lignes Latécoère December 25, 1918 September 19, 1933  France Services started December 25, 1918; rebranded as Aéropostale in 1927; its assets were incorporated into Air France in 1933
Svensk Lufttrafik February 7, 1919 1921  Sweden Services started 7 August 1920
Lignes Aériennes Farman February 8, 1919 October 7, 1933  France Merged with 4 other airlines to form Air France.
Société Générale des Transports Aériens February 8, 1919 October 8, 1933  France Merged with 4 other airlines to form Air France.
Grands Express Aériens March 20, 1919 January 1, 1923  France Merged with Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes to form Air Union.
SNETA March 31, 1919 May 23, 1923  Belgium Merged into Sabena.
Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes April 18, 1919 January 1, 1923  France Merged with Grands Express Aériens to form Air Union.
Daimler Airway June 7, 1919 April 1, 1924  UK Merged with 3 other airlines to form Imperial Airways.
CCNA (Compañía Colombiana de Navegación Aérea) September 26, 1919[1] July 17, 1922  Colombia First airline in Colombia with mail contract with Colombian Government.
KLM October 7, 1919 Still in operation  Netherlands During World War II, operations were suspended in Europe, but continued in the West Indies.[2][3] Merged with Air France in 2004. The airline is the "Oldest operating airline by date".


December 5, 1919 June 14, 1940

Still in operation

 Colombia After the United States expressed concern during World War II over the German shares of the airline (as it was founded by Germans and Colombians), SCADTA was forced to merge with the smaller state owned airline SACO to form Avianca, who claims all pre-merger history as their own. This thereby makes it the de facto "Second oldest airline by foundation date", though the claim remains contentious.[a]
Handley Page Transport 1919 March 31, 1924  United Kingdom Merged with 3 other airlines to form Imperial Airways.
Handley Page Indo-Burmese transport 1919[4] 1921[b]  India First airline in India (then under British rule).
Instone Air Line 1919 March 31, 1924  UK Merged with 3 other airlines to form Imperial Airways.
A/S Aero January 1920 1921  Norway Merged with Norske Aeroplanfabrik
CFRNA January 20, 1920 October 7, 1933  France/ Kingdom of Romania Renamed CIDNA in 1925; the French arm was merged with 4 other airlines to form Air France; the Romanian arm was renamed LARES.
Qantas November 16, 1920 Still in operation  Australia During World War II, most aircraft were used by the RAAF, however limited operations continued within Australia, to/from Singapore and on the Australia-England route.[5] The airline is the "Second oldest operating airline" (after KLM[c]) and the "Oldest airline in the English-speaking world".
Aeronaut March 22, 1921 January 11, 1927  Estonia Operated the routes: Tallinn-Helsinki, Tallinn-Stockholm, Tallinn-Riga-Königsberg and Tallinn-Tartu-Viljandi-Pärnu. Stopped operations in 1927 due to financial problems.
Aerotarg May 10, 1921 June 19, 1921  Poland Operated only on the route between PoznańWarsaw and Poznań–Gdańsk, mainly in order to serve participants and visitors of the first Poznań International Fair.
Mexicana de Aviación July 12, 1921 August 28, 2010  Mexico Suspended operations indefinitely. MRO still operational.
Deruluft November 24, 1921 March 31, 1937  Weimar Republic/ Soviet Union Joint German-Soviet airline.
West Australian Airways December 5, 1921 June 12, 1936  Australia Became part of Australian National Airways.
Aeromarine West Indies Airways 1921 1924  United States Services started 1 November 1920; first U.S. international air service
Junkers Luftverkehr 1921 1926  Weimar Republic 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
Beijing-Han Airlines March 29, 1922 March 31, 1922  China Founded by warlord Cao Kun with a single Handley Page aircraft, likely a modified HP O/400; fatally crashed in Beijing 3 days later.[6]
Aerolloyd June 3, 1922 December 28, 1929  Poland Name changed to Aerolot in 1925; merged with other privately owned airlines in Poland formed LOT Polish Airlines.[7]
Latvijas gaisa satiksme AS July 31, 1922 1928  Latvia Operated in 1923-1926. With hub in Spilve airport, Riga it served Tallinn-Riga-Kaunas (for some time-Klaipėda)-Koenigsberg route in cooperation with Junkers Luftverkehr AG and Aeronaut. Went bankrupt in 1926, liquidated in 1928.
Malert November 19, 1922 1944  Hungary Fore-runner of Malev Hungarian Airlines.
Air Union January 1, 1923 October 7, 1933  France Merged with 4 other airlines to form Air France.
Aeroflot February 3, 1923 Still in operation  Soviet Union/ Russia Founded as Dobrolyot, name changed to Aeroflot in 1932.
SABENA May 23, 1923 February 2002  Belgium Succeeded by SN Brussels Airlines, which became Brussels Airlines. MRO still operational.
British Marine Air Navigation Co Ltd August 1923 March 31, 1924  UK Merged with 3 other airlines to form Imperial Airways.
Czech Airlines October 6, 1923 Still in operation  Czechoslovakia Founded as Czechoslovak State Airlines, name changed to Czech Airlines in 1995.
Finnair November 1, 1923 Still in operation  Finland Founded as Aero O/Y, name changed to Finnair in 1968.
Florida Airways 1923 1927  United States
Ukrpovitroshliakh June 1, 1923 1929  Soviet Union Merged with Zakavia and Deruluft to form Dobrolyot, forerunner of Aeroflot.
Zakavia 1923 1929  Soviet Union Merged with Ukrvozdukhput and Deruluft to form Dobrolyot, forerunner of Aeroflot.
Condor Syndikat May 5, 1924 July 1, 1927  Weimar Republic/ Brazil German-based Brazilian airline; absorbed into Deutsche Luft Hansa
AB Aerotransport June 2, 1924 October 1, 1950  Sweden Formed SAS.
Tajik Air September 3, 1924 Still in operation  Soviet Union/ Tajikistan Founded as a division of Aeroflot in Tajik ASSR, became independent in 1991.
Imperial Airways March 31, 1924 November 24, 1939  United Kingdom Amalgamated to form British Overseas Airways Corporation - itself merged to found British Airways.
Slov-Air 1924 2001  Czechoslovakia/ Slovakia Founded as a department of Bata Shoes; name changed to Svitlet in 1948, to Agrolet in 1950 (became part of CSA, became independent in 1955), and to Slov-Air in 1969.
Aero February 1925 December 28, 1929  Poland Merged with Aerolot formed LOT Polish Airlines.
Ryan Airline Company April 19, 1925 1926  United States Name changed to B. F. Mahoney Aircraft Corporation.
Delta Air Lines March 2, 1925 Still in operation  United States Founded as Huff Daland Dusters for crop dusting, renamed 'Delta Air Service' in 1928, operated scheduled services from 1928 to 1930 and since 1934.
National Air Transport May 21, 1925 1934  United States Became part of United Airlines following Air Mail Act of 1934.
Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano September 15, 1925 2010  Bolivia Former flag carrier of Bolivia; replaced by Boliviana de Aviación.
Unión Aérea Española 1925 1929  Spain Merged with Concesionaria de Líneas Aéreas Subvencionadas following Wall Street Crash of 1929.
Ford Air Transport Service 1925 1932  United States The world's first regularly-scheduled commercial cargo airline.
Società Anonima Navigazione Aerea 1925 1934  Kingdom of Italy Merged with 3 other airlines to form Ala Littoria.
Western Airlines 1925 April 1, 1987  United States Founded as Western Air Express; merged with Transcontinental Air Transport to form Transcontinental & Western Air in 1930; severed from T & WA again in 1934; named changed to General Air Lines and back to Western Air Express in 1934, and to Western Airlines in 1941; merged with Delta Air Lines in 1987.
Pacific Air Transport January 1926 December 17, 1928  United States Merged into Boeing Air Transport, but continued to operate as a separate division until 1934.
Deutsche Luft Hansa January 6, 1926 April 22, 1945  Weimar Republic/ Nazi Germany 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.
Western Canadian Airways March 1926 1930  Canada Amalgamated with several Eastern Canadian carriers forming Canadian Airways.
Varney Air Lines April 6, 1926 May 1934  United States Merged with 3 other airlines 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.
American Airlines April 15, 1926 Still in operation  United States
Eastern Air Lines April 19, 1926 January 17, 1991  United States Started Operations in 1926 as Pitcairn Aviation. Until 1930 changed to "Eastern Air Transport" then Eastern Air Lines until 1991. Re-established in 2015 until 2017.
Northwest Airlines September 10, 1926 January 31, 2010  United States Merged with Delta Air Lines.
Colonial Air Transport 1926 1930  United States Formed American Airlines.
Pan American World Airways March 14, 1927 December 4, 1991  United States Founded by Juan T. Trippe and began operations in 1927 as Pan American Airways (PAA). Former de facto flag carrier of United States.[8] 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.
Varig May 7, 1927 July 20, 2006  Brazil New airline formed with the same name in 2006 and eventually sold to Gol Transportes Aéreos.
Air Serbia June 17, 1927 Still in operation  Kingdom of Yugoslavia/ Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia/ Serbia and Montenegro/ Serbia Formed as Aeroput in 1927, then re-formed as JAT - Jugoslovenski aerotransport in 1947, rebranded as Jat Airways in 2003, and then as Air Serbia in 2013.
Iberia June 28, 1927 Still in operation  Spain Merged with British Airways to form International Airlines Group (IAG) in January 2011.
Maddux Air Lines September 22, 1927 November 16, 1929  United States Merged with TAT to form TAT-Maddux Air Lines, itself merged to form T & WA.
Bunavad October 25, 1927 1930  Kingdom of Bulgaria First national airline of Bulgaria.
Cruzeiro do Sul December 1, 1927 January 1, 1993  Brazil Founded as Syndicato Condor; name changed to Cruzeiro do Sul in 1943; merged with Varig in 1993.
Grand Canyon Airlines 1927 Still in operation  United States Founded as Scenic Airways; name changed to Grand Canyon Airlines in 1930.
Standard Air Lines 1927 March 1930  United States Sold off to Western Air Express, itself merged to form T & WA.
National Parks Airways 1927 1937  United States Bought out by Western Air Express.
Wien Air Alaska 1927 November 23, 1984  Alaska/ United States First airline in Alaska.
MacRobertson Miller Airlines 1927 1993  Australia Absorbed into Ansett.
Paul R. Braniff, Inc. May 29, 1928 March 1929  United States First Braniff brothers airline entity that operated scheduled service between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Forerunner of Braniff Airways and then became Braniff Air Lines, Inc., and later Braniff Airways, Inc. in November 1930.
KNILM July 16, 1928 August 1, 1947  Dutch East Indies/ Indonesia First operated as KNILM. KNILM dissolved and transferred to KLM Interinsulair Bedrijf (today Garuda Indonesia)
Universal Air Lines July 30, 1928 1934  United States Merged with other companies to form American Airlines.
ETA August 10, 1928 November 16, 1929  Brazil Ceased operations due to administrative difficulties.
August 16, 1928 August 25, 1928 Had a single Ford 4-AT Trimotor which crashed.[9]  Canada British Columbia Airways
Faucett Perú September 15, 1928 December 3, 1997  Peru
Japan Air Transport October 28, 1928 1938  Empire of Japan Merged into Imperial Japanese Airways.
Mid-Continent Airlines 1928 August 26, 1952  United States Founded as Hanford's Tri-State Airlines; name changed to Mid-Continent Airlines in 1938; merged into Braniff International Airways in 1952.
Transcontinental Air Transport 1928 1930  United States 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.
LOT Polish Airlines December 29, 1928 Still in operation  Poland Polskie Linie Lotnicze LOT created by the Polish government they have absorbed airlines Aerolot (1922) and Aero (1925).
Hawaiian Airlines January 30, 1929 Still in operation  Hawaii/ United States Incorporated January 30, 1929 as Inter-Island Airways. Began service October 6, 1929. Name changed to Hawaiian Airlines October 1, 1941.
LATAM Chile March 5, 1929 Still in operation  Chile 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. LAN Chile became LAN Airlines in 2004 but in 2010, LAN merged with TAM Airlines and became LATAM Airlines. LAN Airlines still operates under the name LATAM Chile as a subsidiary of LATAM Airlines Group.
Concesionaria de Líneas Aéreas Subvencionadas May 13, 1929 July 18, 1936  Spain/ Spain Ceased operations due to the Spanish Civil War.
Aeropostal July 3, 1929 Still in operation  Venezuela Founded as Linea Aeropostal Venezolana LAV, name changed to Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela in 1997 after privatization.
Pan American-Grace Airways September 13, 1929 February 1, 1969  United States Joint venture between Pan Am and Grace Shipping Company; merged into Braniff in 1969.
Cubana de Aviación October 8, 1929 Still in operation  Cuba
Panair do Brasil October 22, 1929 February 16, 1965  Brazil Founded as Nyrba do Brasil. Name changed to Panair do Brasil in 1930. Bankruptcy forced by the Brazilian Militar Dictatorship Government.
Wiggins Airways 1929 Still in operation  United States
Union Airways July 24, 1929 January 31, 1934  Union of South Africa First South African airline; taken over by the government and renamed South African Airways.
Australian National Airways 1929 1931  Australia
Trans World Airlines July 16, 1930 December 1, 2001  United States Acquired by American Airlines.
Aviaarktika September 1, 1930 January 3, 1960  Soviet Union Absorbed into Aeroflot.
Braniff International Airways November 13, 1930 May 12/May 13, 1982  United States
New England & Western Air Transportation Co. 1930 1930  United States
South West African Airways 1930 1935  South West Africa First commercial air service in South West Africa (Namibia)

For airlines founded after 1930 see Category: Airlines by year of establishment


  1. ^ Many other airlines are included despite also having merged, i.e. Aeroflot, LATAM, Qantas, etc.
  2. ^ Exact date unknown; known to have still been operational at this date
  3. ^ Regardless of Avianca's status, Qantas is the de jure second oldest


  1. ^ "Noventa Años de Aviación Civil en Colombia". El portal de la Aviación en Colombia. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  2. ^ "The history of KLM's West-Indian Operation". 6 May 2016.
  3. ^ "KLM | Dutch airline | Britannica". Retrieved 2022-10-28.
  4. ^ Fraser-Mitchell, A. H. "Handley Page Ltd. 1909-1970. 60 years of Achievement" (PDF). Retrieved March 17, 2022.
  5. ^ "World at War". 4 February 1942. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  6. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Handley Page O/7 registration unknown Beijing-Nanyuan Airport". Retrieved 2023-03-04.
  7. ^[bare URL]
  8. ^ Lieberman, Melanie (18 March 2018). "Why the United States Doesn't Have a National Airline". Travel + Leisure. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  9. ^ "History of Flight in BC". The Canadian Museum of Flight. Retrieved March 22, 2023.