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Articles

The Birth of Air Transport

By: Rob Mulder
For: www.europeanairlines.no

The informative and unfortunately short-lived aviation magazine “The Putnam Aeronautical Review” published in its issue of October 1989 an article from the hand of John Stroud. In this article he deals with the question that was first to open an air service and which qualifications were made in order to establish who was first. We would like to extend the information to the readers by adding a detailed review over all European countries and which airline company was the first in that country.

Qualification explained
But first of all we would like to repeat some of the qualification that John Stroud mentioned in his article and which were used in our article as well. John Stroud wrote: “The establishment of first in air transport represents us with the same need for qualifications. In this case six are required to establish the beginning of regular, daily, scheduled, international passenger-carrying commercial air services: passenger, civil, regular, international and sustained. (Even the term daily needs qualification because it was frequently used to denote Monday to Saturday inclusive.)

The first scheduled passenger air service, opened on 1 January 1914 between St Petersburg and Tampa by St Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line, met four of the qualifications but was neither international nor sustained. The Austro-Hungarian air mail service between Vienna and Kiev, begun on 20 March 1918, was not operated daily, did not carry passengers and was, at least in part, a military operation – but it was the first regular scheduled international air mail service. On 15 May 1918, the United States Post Office began New York – Washington and Washington – New York mail services. These met four of the qualifications but were not international and did not carry passengers. When Deutsche Luft-Reederei began its Berlin – Weimar service on 5 February 1919, it met all the qualifications except international. Lignes Aériennes Farman began Paris – Brussels service on 22 March 1919, but these were weekly and so failed to meet the qualification daily.

Finally, on 25 August 1919, the British airline Aircraft Transport & Travel met all six qualifications when it inaugurated a regular, sustained, civil, daily (Monday to Saturday) passenger service between London and Paris.”

Thus we have explained the qualifications and we can now start to go over the European countries (except the United Kingdom, see above). With “Aircraft used” we mean the type of aircraft used on the first flight.

Albania
Company:                 Adria Aero LloydFounded:                  1 February 1925Air service:               Tiranë – Skhodër – Vlorë – KorcëPassenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 1 year

International:            No

Aircraft used:           AEG K

AustriaCompany:                 Österreichische Luftverkehrs AGFounded:                  14 May 1923

Air service:               Wien (Vienna) – Budapest

Opened:                    March 1923

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes (1)

Sustained:                 –

Permanent:               Yes

International:            Yes

Aircraft used:           Junkers F 13

BelgiumCompany:                 Syndicate National pour l’Etude du Transport AérienFounded:                  November 1919

Air service:               Brussels – Paris

Opened:                    1920

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 Yes

Permanent:               Yes

International:            Yes

Aircraft used:           Breguet XIV A.2

BulgariaCompany:                 Bunavad – Bulgarian National Airline CompanyFounded:                  9 October 1925

Air service:               Sofia – Ruse – Varna and Sofia – Plovdiv – Burgas

Opened:                    October 1927

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 1 year

Permanent:               No

International:            No

Aircraft used:           Junkers F 13

CzechoslovakiaCompany:                 Československe Státni Aerolinie – ČSAFounded:                  6 October 1923

Air service:               Praha (Prag) – Bratislava – Kosice – Uzorod

Opened:                    15 March 1924

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 –

Permanent:               Yes

International:            No

Aircraft used:           Aero A-14

DenmarkCompany:                 Det Danske Luftfartselskab AS – DDLFounded:                  29 October 1919

Air service:               København – Warnemünde

Opened:                    7 August 1920

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 1 year

Permanent:               No

International:            Yes

Aircraft used:           Friedrichshafen FF 49C

EstoniaCompany:                 A-S AeronautFounded:                  22 March 1921

Air service:               Tallinn – Riga

Opened:                    29 July 1921

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 Yes

Permanent:               Yes

International:            Yes

Aircraft used:           Sablatnig P.I

FinlandCompany:                 Aero O/yFounded:                  1 November 1923

Air service:               Helsinki – Tallinn

Opened:                    20 March 1924

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 Yes

Permanent:               Yes

International:            Yes

Aircraft used:           Junkers F 13

FranceCompany:                 Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes – CMAFounded:                  February 1919

Air service:               Paris – Lille

Opened:                    18 April 1919

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 Yes

Permanent:               Yes

International:            Yes

Aircraft used:           Breguet 14T

Freistaat DanzigCompany:                 Danziger Luftreederei GmbHFounded:                  27 October 1919

Air service:               Danzig – Königsberg – Memel – Riga – Tallinn

Opened:                    1921

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 Yes

Permanent:               Yes

International:            Yes

Aircraft used:           Fokker-Grulich F.II

GermanyCompany:                 Deutsche Luft-Reederei GmbHFounded:                  13 December 1917

Air service:               Berlin – Weimar

Opened:                    5 February 1919

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 Yes

Permanent:               Yes

International:            No

Aircraft used:           AEG J.II

GibraltarCompany:                 Gibraltar Airways LtdFounded:                  December 1930

Air service:               Gibraltar – Tanger

Opened:                    23 September 1931

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 1 year

Permanent:               No

International:            Yes

Aircraft used:           Saro A.21

GreeceCompany:                 Elliniki Etairia Enaerion Synkoinonion AEFounded:                  9 July 1930

Air service:               Athínia – Thessaloniki

Opened:                    1 June 1931

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 Yes

Permanent:               Yes

International:            No

Aircraft used:           Junkers G 24he

HungaryCompany:                 Magyar Aeroforgalmi RTFounded:                  February 1920

Air service:               Budapest – Szombathely, Budapest – Miskolc

and Budapest – Szeged

Opened:                    12 May 1920

Passenger:                No (2)

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 1 year

Permanent:               No

International:            No

Aircraft used:           Phönix C I

IcelandCompany:                 Flugfélag Akureyrar h/fFounded:                  3 June 1937

Air service:               Akureyrar – Reykjavik

Opened:                    1938

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 Yes

Permanent:               Yes

International:            No

Aircraft used:           Waco YKS-7

ItalyCompany:                 Società Italiana Servizi AereiFounded:                  1923

Air service:               Torino – Pavia – Venezia – Triest

Opened:                    1 April 1926

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 Yes

Permanent:               Yes

International:            No

Aircraft used:           Cant 10ter

LatviaCompany:                 Latvijas Gaisa Satiksmes A/SFounded:                  31 July 1921

Air service:               Tallinn – Riga – Kaunus – Königsberg

Opened:                    7 March 1922 (3)

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 Yes

Permanent:               Yes

International:            Yes

Aircraft used:           Junkers F 13

Liechtenstein and Luxembourg had no airline companies
LithuaniaCompany:                 Lietuvos Oro LinijosFounded:                  31 July 1921

Air service:               Tallinn – Riga – Kaunus – Königsberg

Opened:                    7 March 1922 (3)

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 Yes

Permanent:               Yes

International:            Yes

Aircraft used:           Junkers F 13

NetherlandsCompany:                 Koninklijke Luchvaart Maatschappijvoor Nederland en Koloniën

Founded:                  7 October 1919

Air service:               Amsterdam – London (6)

Opened:                    17 May 1920

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 Yes

Permanent:               Yes

International:            Yes

Aircraft used:           Airco DH 16

NorwayCompany:                 Det Norske Luftfartsrederi ASFounded:                  18 March 1918

Air service:               Bergen – Haugesund – Stavanger (4)

Opened:                    16 August 1920

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 1 year

Permanent:               No

International:            No

Aircraft used:           Supermarine Channel

PolandCompany:                 Aero TargFounded:                  10 May 1921

Air service:               Warszawa – Poznan

Opened:                    29 May 1921

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 1 year

Permanent:               No

International:            No

Aircraft used:           Junkers F 13

PortugalCompany:                 Sociadade Aero-Portuguesa Ltda.Founded:                  22 June 1934

Air service:               Lisboa – Tanger

Opened:                    20 October 1934

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 Yes

Permanent:               Yes

International:            Yes

Aircraft used:           Wibault 283

RomaniaCompany:                 Serviciul National de Navigatie Aeriana – SNNAFounded:                  1928

Air service:               Bucaresti – Constanta

Opened:                    August 1928

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 2 years

Permanent:               No

International:            No

Aircraft used:           Farman F 60 (?)

Saarland had no airline company that operated air services
SlovakiaCompany:                 Slovenská Letecká A/SFounded:                  19 June 1939

Air service:               Bratislava – Wien (Vienna)

Opened:                    28 June 1939

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 2 years

Permanent:               No

International:            Yes

Aircraft used:           Junkers Ju 86

SpainCompany:                 Compañia Aéromaritima Mallorquina SAFounded:                  29 March 1921

Air service:               Palma de Mallorca – Barcelona

Opened:                    20 March 1922

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 1 year

Permanent:               No

International:            No

Aircraft used:           Macchi M 18

SwedenCompany:                 Svenska Lufttrafik AB – SLAFounded:                  7 February 1919

Air service:               København – Malmö – Warnemünde

Opened:                    7 August 1920

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 1 year

Permanent:               No

International:            Yes

Aircraft used:           Unknown

SwitzerlandCompany:                 Ad Astra Aero AG (5)Founded:                  1920

Air service:               Genève – Zürich – Nürnberg/Fürth

Opened:                    1 June 1922

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 1 year

Permanent:               Yes

International:            Yes

Aircraft used:           Junkers F 13

YugoslaviaCompany:                 AeroputFounded:                  29 May 1927

Air service:               Beograd – Zagreb

Opened:                    15 February 1928

Passenger:                Yes

Civil:                          Yes

Regular:                    Yes

Sustained:                 Yes

Permanent:               Yes

International:            No

Aircraft used:           Potez 29-2

_

Notes:

(1) In co-operation with Trans Europa Union

(2) Air mail service

(3) In co-operation with Osteuropa Union

(4) On 12 July 1920 a naval airmail service was opened.

(5) Full name of the company: Schweizerische Luftverkehrs Aktiengesellschaft Ad Astra Aero, Avion Tourisme Société Anonyme – Ad Astra Aero.

(6) The world’s oldest surviving air service. In 2005 existed for 90 years.

In the future we will describe many of these airline companies on our website.

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