List of airlines by foundation date

Last updated

This is a list of airlines by foundation date, founded by December 31, 1929. For airlines founded after 1929 see Category: Airlines by year of establishment.

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

AirlineEstablishedCeased operationsNotes
German Empire DELAG November 16, 1909March 21, 1935The 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, 19101920Merged with Magyar Aeroforgalmi Rt (MAEFORT)
United States St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line 19131914First winged airline. See Thomas Reilly, Jannus: An American Flyer
United Kingdom Aircraft Transport and Travel October 5, 19161921Services 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 19172007Started scheduled service between Florida and the Bahamas in February 1919; Became Chalk's International Airlines.
German Empire Deutsche Luft-Reederei December 19171923Services 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 19181921Founding member of IATA
Denmark Danish Air Lines October 29, 19181946Services started August 7, 1920. Part of SAS since 1946.
France Société des lignes Latécoère December 25, 19181932Services started December 25, 1918; rebranded as Aéropostale in 1927; its assets were incorporated into Air France in 1933
Sweden Svensk Lufttrafik February 7, 19191921Services started 7 August 1920
France Lignes Aériennes Farman February 8, 1919October 7, 1933Merged with 4 other airlines to form Air France.
France Société Générale des Transports Aériens February 8, 1919October 8, 1933Merged with 4 other airlines to form Air France.
France Grands Express Aériens March 20, 1919January 1, 1923Merged with Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes to form Air Union.
Belgium SNETA March 31, 1919May 23, 1923Merged into Sabena.
France Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes April 18, 1919January 1, 1923Merged with Grands Express Aériens to form Air Union.
United Kingdom Daimler Airway June 7, 19191924Merged with 3 other airlines to form Imperial Airways.
Colombia Compañía Colombiana de Navegación Aérea CCNA September 26, 1919 [1] 1921First airline in Colombia with mail contract with Colombian Government.
Netherlands KLM October 7, 1919Still in operationOperations 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, 1919Still in operationFounded 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 1919March 31, 1924Merged with 3 other airlines to form Imperial Airways.
United Kingdom Instone Air Line 19191924Merged with 3 other airlines to form Imperial Airways.
Norway Aero January 19201921Merged with Norske Aeroplanfabrik
France / Romania CFRNA January 20, 1920October 7, 1933Renamed CIDNA in 1925; the French arm was merged with 4 other airlines to form Air France; the Romanian arm was renamed LARES.
Australia Qantas November 16, 1920Still in operationHolds title of "Third oldest operating Airline by Years in service" [2] After KLM. As well as "Second oldest Continuously Operating Airline in the World" [3] After Avianca. Due to KLM suspending service during WW2.
Estonia Aeronaut March 22, 1921January 11, 1927Operated 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 10, 1921June 19, 1921Operated only on the route between PoznańWarsaw and Poznań–Gdańsk, mainly in order to serve participants and visitors of the first Poznań International Fair.
Mexico Mexicana July 12, 1921August 28, 2010Suspended operations indefinitely. MRO still operational.
Germany / Soviet Union Deruluft November 24, 1921March 31, 1937Joint German-Soviet airline.
Australia West Australian Airways December 5, 1921June 12, 1936Became part of Australian National Airways.
United States Aeromarine West Indies Airways 19211924Services started 1 November 1920; first U.S. international air service
Weimar Republic Junkers Luftverkehr 19211926A 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 June 3, 1922December 28, 1929Name changed to Aerolot in 1925; merged with other privately owned airlines in Poland formed LOT Polish Airlines. [4]
Hungary Malert November 19, 19221944Fore-runner of Malev Hungarian Airlines.
France Air Union January 1, 1923October 7, 1933Merged with 4 other airlines to form Air France.
Soviet Union / Russia Aeroflot February 9, 1923Still in operationFounded as Dobrolyot, name changed to Aeroflot in 1932.
Belgium SABENA May 23, 1923February 2002Succeeded by SN Brussels Airlines. MRO still operational.
United Kingdom British Marine Air Navigation Co Ltd August 19231924Merged with 3 other airlines to form Imperial Airways.
Czechoslovakia Czech Airlines October 6, 1923Still in operationFounded as Czechoslovak State Airlines, name changed to Czech Airlines in 1995.
Finland Finnair November 1, 1923Still in operationFounded as Aero O/Y, name changed to Finnair in 1968.
United States Florida Airways 19231927
Soviet Union Ukrvozdukhput 19231929Merged with Zakavia and Deruluft to form Dobrolyot, forerunner of Aeroflot.
Soviet Union Zakavia 19231929Merged with Ukrvozdukhput and Deruluft to form Dobrolyot, forerunner of Aeroflot.
Germany Condor Syndikat May 5, 1924July 1, 1927German-based Brazilian airline; absorbed into Deutsche Luft Hansa
United States Delta Air Lines May 30, 1924Still in operationFounded 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, 1924October 1, 1950Formed SAS.
Soviet Union / Tajikistan Tajik Air September 3, 1924Still in operationFounded as a division of Aeroflot in Tajik ASSR, became independent in 1991.
United Kingdom Imperial Airways 19241939Amalgamated to form British Overseas Airways Corporation - itself merged to found British Airways.
Czechoslovakia / Slovakia Slov-Air 19242001Founded 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.
Poland Aero February 1925December 28, 1929Merged with Aerolot formed LOT Polish Airlines.
United States Ryan Airline Company April 19, 19251926Name changed to B. F. Mahoney Aircraft Corporation.
United States National Air Transport May 21, 19251934Became part of United Airlines following Air Mail Act of 1934.
Bolivia Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano September 15, 19252010Former flag carrier of Bolivia; replaced by Boliviana de Aviación.
Spain Unión Aérea Española 19251929Merged with Concesionaria de Líneas Aéreas Subvencionadas following Wall Street Crash of 1929.
United States Ford Air Transport Service 19251932The world's first regularly-scheduled commercial cargo airline.
Italy Società Anonima Navigazione Aerea 19251934Merged with 3 other airlines to form Ala Littoria.
United States Western Airlines 1925April 1, 1987Founded 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.
United States Pacific Air Transport January 1926December 17, 1928Merged into Boeing Air Transport, but continued to operate as a separate division until 1934.
Weimar Republic Deutsche Luft Hansa January 6, 1926April 22, 1945Name 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 19261930Amalgamated with several Eastern Canadian carriers forming Canadian Airways.
United States Varney Air Lines April 6, 1926May 1934Merged 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.
United States Eastern Air Lines April 19, 1926January 18, 1991Started Operations in 1926 as (Pitcairn Aviation). Until 1929 changed to "Eastern Air Transport" now Eastern Air Lines until 1991.
United States Northwest Airlines 1926January 31, 2010Merged with Delta Air Lines.
United States Colonial Air Transport 19261930Formed American Airlines.
United States Pan American World Airways March 14, 1927December 4, 1991Founded 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, 1927July 20, 2006New airline formed with the same name in 2006 and eventually sold to Gol Transportes Aéreos.
Kingdom of Yugoslavia / Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia / Serbia and Montenegro / Serbia Air Serbia June 17, 1927Still in operationFormed 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.
Spain Iberia June 28, 1927Still in operationMerged with British Airways to form International Airlines Group (IAG) in January 2011
Bulgaria Bunavad October 25, 19271930First national airline of Bulgaria.
Brazil Cruzeiro do Sul December 1, 1927January 1, 1993Founded as Syndicato Condor; name changed to Cruzeiro do Sul in 1943; merged with Varig in 1993.
United States Grand Canyon Airlines 1927Still in operationFounded as Scenic Airways; name changed to Grand Canyon Airlines in 1930.
United States Maddux Air Lines 1927November 16, 1929Merged with TAT to form TAT-Maddux Air Lines, itself merged to form T & WA.
United States Standard Air Lines 1927March 1930Sold off to Western Air Express, itself merged to form T & WA.
United States National Parks Airways 19271937Bought out by Western Air Express.
Alaska / United States Wien Air Alaska 1927November 23, 1984First airline in Alaska.
Australia MacRobertson Miller Airlines 19271993Absorbed into Ansett.
United States Paul R. Braniff, Inc. May 29, 1928March 1929First 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.
Dutch East Indies / Indonesia KNILM July 16, 1928August 1, 1947First operated as KNILM. KNILM dissolved and transferred to KLM Interinsulair Bedrijf (today Garuda Indonesia)
United States Universal Air Lines July 30, 19281934Merged with other companies to form American Airlines.
Brazil ETA August 10, 1928November 16, 1929Ceased operations due to administrative difficulties.
Peru Faucett Perú September 15, 19281997
Empire of Japan Japan Air Transport 19281938Merged into Imperial Japanese Airways.
United States Mid-Continent Airlines 1928August 26, 1952Founded as Hanford's Tri-State Airlines; name changed to Mid-Continent Airlines in 1938; merged into Braniff International Airways in 1952.
United States Transcontinental Air Transport 1928December 1, 2001Merged 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 December 29, 1928Still in operationPolskie Linie Lotnicze LOT created by the Polish government they have absorbed airlines Aerolot (1922) and Aero (1925).
Hawaii / United States Hawaiian Airlines January 30, 1929Still in operationIncorporated January 30, 1929 as Inter-Island Airways. Began service October 6, 1929. Name changed to Hawaiian Airlines October 1, 1941.
Chile LATAM Chile March 5, 1929Still in operationBegan 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 mergered with TAM Airlines and became LATAM Airlines. LAN Airlines still operates under the name LATAM Chile as a subsidiary of LATAM Airlines Group.
Spain Concesionaria de Líneas Aéreas Subvencionadas May 13, 1929July 18, 1936Ceased operations due to the Spanish Civil War.
Venezuela Aeropostal July 3, 1929Still in operationFounded as Linea Aeropostal Venezolana LAV, name changed to Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela in 1997 after privatization.
United States Pan American-Grace Airways September 13, 1929February 1, 1969Joint venture between Pan Am and Grace Shipping Company; merged into Braniff in 1969.
Cuba Cubana October 8, 1929Still in operation
Brazil Panair do Brasil October 22, 1929February 16, 1965Founded as Nyrba do Brasil. Name changed to Panair do Brasil in 1930. Bankruptcy forced by the Brazilian Government.
United States Wiggins Airways 1929Still in operation
Union of South Africa Union Airways 19291934First South African airline; taken over by the government and renamed South African Airways.

For airlines founded after 1929 see Category: Airlines by year of establishment


  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. "The World's Oldest Airlines". 7 February 2015.