Norway Air Express

By: Rob Mulder

A long wait

In August 1919 the Dutch lieutenant Albert Plesman (founder of Royal Dutch KLM) met with the management of the Norwegian airline company Det Norske Luftfartrederi A/S – DNL and they discussed the possibility to establish an air service between the Netherlands and Norway in cooperation with the other IATA-members. Unfortunately, DNL went brook and until 1933 not much more happened. In the twenties of the last century the Norwegian Captain Wilhelm Meisterlin functioned as personal member of IATA representing Norway. Since 1927 the KLM discussed the possibilities with several Norwegian parties.

DC-2 on Fornebu

Arrival of the first Douglas DC-2 operated by KLM

In the beginning of the thirties the Norwegian Naval Captain Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen was asked by the well-known Norwegian Consul Rudolf Olsen (of Fred Olsen & Co) to help and start up a new national airline company. The company was formed on January 25, 1935 under the name of Det Norske Luftfartselskap, Fred.Olsen & Bergenske A/S with a stock capital of 1.6 million Kroner. But the involvement of the Dutch airline company KLM – Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij voor Nederland en Koloniën had been considerable. KLM proposed the use of its three-engine Fokker F.VIIb-3m and two-engine Fokker F.XVIII on the Norwegian air services. The plans were based on the use of land-based aircraft, but unfortunately the airfields for these types of aircraft were not ready when DNL started up (June 1935). Thus KLMs plan could not be implemented yet. For the Norwegians the air service to Amsterdam was of major importance and was included in the national plan. The reason was that they did not want to be dependent of the Swedes and the Danes. An air service from Oslo to Germany via Gothenburg (Sweden) and Copenhagen (Denmark) had excited since July 1927, but at that time this route took more time than a direct air services.

KLM and DNL had drafted an agreement as early as 1933. KLM offered DNL to buy three Fokker F.VIIb-3m aircraft at a price of  103,000 Guilders. They wanted to open a direct air service Oslo (Kjeller) – Amsterdam (Schiphol) as from June 1, 1934. KLM would pay for the ground organisation in Holland. But the F.VIIb-3m would not be used for this service. In stead KLM would also sell two Fokker F.XVIIIs that had variable pitch propellers and a cruising speed of 215 km/h. Pilots, mechanics and ground managers could be trained in the Netherlands in January – March 1934. But the route could not be opened until later as DNL did not had its concession yet.

DNL starts up and tries again

In 1935 DNL opened its first domestic air service using the solid Junkers Ju-52/3m-See, the floatplane version of the three-engine Junkers Ju-52/3m. The aircraft was chartered from aircraft manufacture Junkers Flugzeugwerk AGJfa via the German airline company DLH – Deutsche Lufthansa AG and flown by German-Norwegian crews. In January 1936, DNL opened discussions with Pan American Airways – Panair about a transatlantic air service. They reached an agreement and scheduled to open an air service between Bergen, the Faeroe Islands, Iceland, New Foundland and New York. DNL purchased an amphibian aircraft of the type Sikorsky S-43 (registered LN-DAG and named it Valkyrien). But the Americans cancelled the agreement just before the start of the air service and now the Norwegians had an aircraft they had no use for.

November 1936 DNL informed the Det Kongelige Forsvarsdepartement – FD (Air Ministry of Norway) that it wanted to open the air service Oslo – Amsterdam on April 19, 1937 using its amphibian, the Sikorsky S-43, LN-DAG. It was to be operated until September 30. The aircraft could start as a seaplane from Oslo (Gressholmen), make an intermediate landing in Kristiansand and end its journey as a land plane in Amsterdam (Schiphol). The service was to be operated in cooperation with the Dutch airline company. KLM seriously negotiated the purchase of a Sikorsky S-43 but they could not confirm that they would buy one. Thus it was difficult to participate with 50 % on the line. DNL suggested to the FD operating the service on a trial basis on the expenses of DNL, but with a Norwegian postal subsidy. An alternative from Oslo via Esbjerg to Amsterdam was also investigated. As the company noticed that no support could be found it started thinking on totally new service: Stavanger (Sola) – Newcastle across the North Sea. Eventually, at the start of the 1937-season DNL inaugurated with its Sikorsky S-43 the air service Oslo – Stockholm. Again, the air service to Amsterdam could not be opened, not even as a non-subsidized trial route. DNL was eager opening the air service to Amsterdam, but again had to wait.

A tough flight to the starting line

During 1938 it was obvious that the long awaited inauguration of an air service between Norway and the Netherlands was within reach. The new land based aerodrome of Oslo (Fornebo) and Kristiansand (Kjevik) were scheduled to be ready at the spring of 1939. But Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen, the co-founder of DNL, discovered soon that something was wrong. The problem was that the big four on the Scandinavian routes Dutch KLM, Swedish AB Aerotransport, Danish DDL and German Deutsche Lufthansa AG just previously had entered an agreement to co-ordinate all traffic from Copenhagen and westbound, thus avoiding any competition. Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen travelled at the end of December 1938 to Deutsche Lufthansa for talks with its director Von Gablenz. He suggested that DNL would fly alone to Amsterdam and sign an agreement with British Airways Ltd and Air France SA for connection to respectively London and Paris. If this could not be achieved the only solution was to call in a meeting where the four involved airline companies could be asked considering a dispensation of the clause. On his way to London he made a short stop at KLMs head office in Den Haag. Albert Plesman could confirm that they would operate the air service with DNL and with the Douglas DC-2. But Plesman also confirmed that the agreement between the four companies existed and that the four members all had to agree to drop the clause.

Leslie Ranciman of British Airways Ltd (the next stop on Hjalmar Riiser-Larsens tour) was enthusiastic of the idea of opening an air service. However, the Air Ministry was to take the final decision. Such an air service would certainly have a political interest. But he thought that a service beyond Oslo towards Sweden, Finland and Soviet-Russia would be of greater interest. Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen returned to Oslo and tried to solve the problem. No record of the final decision has so far been recovered, but it is likely that the four members gave their approval, since the air service was opened in June 1939.

Now finally, DNL and KLM could start the final preparations for the air service. At that time air services had as we have now a number, that were tide up to the airline company responsible for the air service. During the preparations KLM baptised the new service “Air Service 909”, as it was the company flying it. DNL used numbers in 1700-series and was of the opinion that the air service should have the DNL-number 1713. The Norwegians had been committed to the cause and it was for them a matter of prestige that the Norwegian public regarded the service Norwegian. KLM agreed and the route number was changed into 1713. But some minor problems occurred when the time schedule was presented. The Norwegian reacted on the short stop in Kristiansand (only 10 minutes). The problem was that although DNL was to use the fast Caproni Ca 310 (LN-DAK Brevduen) for its airmail-run PF1721 route, arriving from Gothenburg in Oslo at 07.10 am, it feared that the Junkers Ju-52/3m on the stretch Oslo – Bergen and Bergen – Haugesund – Stavanger – Kristiansand could not reach Kristiansand in time to correspond with the machine to Amsterdam. It was important for DNL that the west coast cities of Bergen, Haugesund and Stavanger had the possibility to send their continental mail to Amsterdam. A delay on the DNL-service would make the mail arrive too late in Kristiansand. Although KLM first opposed to a change it subsequently agreed to extend the stop to maximum 20 minutes. KLM was afraid that the transfer in Amsterdam would be in danger. Passengers, mail, goods and luggage fed the connecting air service to London and Paris from Germany, Hungary, Italy and Switzerland. These passengers and goods could not wait too long for an (delayed) aircraft from Norway. But they gave in. The stop in Amsterdam between the different flights was extended to 45 minutes.

The negotiations were on behalf of DNL led by Odd Steen and on behalf of KLM by D J de Vries. DNL had employed Finn Schanche in charge of marketing and Gert Meidell in charge of advertising. They both travelled to Den Haag in the Netherlands and joined the staff of KLM for training. Here they worked together with Mr Visser, who was to become KLMs man in Oslo. Finn Schancke also travelled to London, Berlin (DLH) and Copenhagen (to KLMs representatives Berndt Rom and E E de Jongh). Mr Visser, however, fell ill and could not travel to Norway. He was replaced by Mr Ten Hooven, who settled in at the Gabelshus Pension in the heart of Oslo (this hotel still exists!).

Solving the last problems

A final problem was the official number of kilometres of the route. In order to avoid disagreements and long discussions, the airline companies in Europe used the Bureau International in Bern (Switzerland) to determine the number of kilometres between two cities. This official number of kilometres formed the basis for pool agreements and subsidies and it was therefore very important to be exact. DNL wanted for Oslo – Kristiansand 284 km, but the Bureau Internationale said it was 285 including a 5 % margin. For the stretch Kristiansand – Amsterdam 680 km + 5 % margin = 735 km was agreed upon. These figures could be found in the official contract. In May Mr Moes (Head Inspector for KLMs India route) travelled to Oslo (via Copenhagen) and Kristiansand to check up the facilities. To be honest, the airports were not yet ready. In Kristiansand there was a runway, but no handling facilities. On Fornebo Airport the facilities were not by a long way ready. Here aircraft could land while the future restaurant would be used as passengers and freight terminal and by the booking staff of DNL. The official opening ceremony would not take place until 1940. Actually, DNL found it wise to open the air service without too much ceremony.

The contracts between KLM and DNL were signed on May 19 by KLM and May 22 by DNL. The seventeen paragraphs the two parties agreed upon mentioned all details. Traffic would start on June 1 and last until September 30, 1939, later extended to October 31. The parties agreed upon to divide the costs equally between each other. In principal KLM would fly the air service with Douglas DC-2 aircraft and was offered a reimbursement of 675 Dutch Guilders per single flight. The pool agreement stipulated that the subsidy would be based on the following kilometres:

Amsterdam – Kristiansand: 735 km.

Kristiansand – Oslo: 284 km.

For the handling and transportation of freight, luggage and passengers it was agreed that KLM would pay 1,600 Norwegian Kroner in Kristiansand, but in Oslo it would be free of charge. Between Oslo and Kristiansand the aircraft could carry a maximum of 14 passengers, but between Kristiansand and Amsterdam only 12, due to the length of the flight. KLM could also use the Douglas DC-3, but only if needed. The maximum number of passengers carried by DC-3 would be respectively 14 and 12. Earlier both companies signed an agreement, where they recognized each other as general agent. The scheduled for the air service was as follows:

For a moment Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen discussed the possibility for DNL to charter one Douglas DC-2 from KLM. No contract has been found, but in its year report KLM mentioned that one Douglas DC-2, including crew, was chartered to DNL. It might well be that the costs of operation for one aircraft were covered by DNL.

In April and May a KLM-representative travelled to Iceland to negotiate the conditions for an extension of the Amsterdam – Kristiansand – Oslo air service to the island and further to the United States of America. KLM had ordered the Douglas DC-4s and wanted to start up the air service to the USA. But finally, on May 31, the preparations were finalized and the air service could be opened. As was tradition in the Netherlands, a name was given to the air services. In order to determine the name KLM asked the air minded Dutch public to suggest a suitable name. And suggestions came in. Some of them were: Vikings Air Express, Fjord Air Lines, North-Star Air Lines, Midnight Sun Air Express and Pole-Star Air Express. From the readers of Dutch newspaper Het Vaderland came a number of suggestions: Nora (symbolizing the words Norway and Amsterdam) and the Peer Gynt Rapide. Inspired by Hamlet The Nôorland Express. Or from the polar expeditions: The Winged Fram Line, The Frithjof Air Express and the Nansen Air Express. Other suggestions? What bout the Edda Aircraft or Baldur Express. Here are finally some more funny names, such as De Noorsche Vlieg (the Norwegian Fly) or Adam Solo (Amsterdam – Oslo) and Ademloos (combining the names of the city of Amsterdam and Oslo, but also meaning in Dutch breathless). Finally De Noorderzon (the Northern Sun). But both companies decided on May 31 to name the service Norway Air Express.

The start of the service

One aircraft flew the day ahead of the opening to Oslo/Fornebo to start up the air service from Norway. It is known that the Douglas DC-2-115D, PH-AKI Kieviet and PH-AKH Haan stood for the opening of the air service. But on Thursday, June 1, 1939 the first Douglas DC-2 (PH-AKH Haan) with as captain the well-known pilot Iwan Smirnoff departed Oslo Fornebo Airport and flew to Kristiansand, where a modest welcome party waited. Upon arrival some small cakes and non-alcoholic wine was served, before the aircraft continued to Amsterdam. KLM was not the only airline company to start up an air service. The Danish airline company DDL – Det Danske Luftfartsselskab started up the air service Aalborg – Kristiansand in connection with an air service to Copenhagen. Its first aircraft landed at 12.20 noon and returned at 12.40 noon. DNL started up a new service as well: Oslo – Bergen overland and with a land based aircraft and Bergen – Stavanger – Haugesund – Kristiansand. The aircraft connected In Kristiansand with the KLM-aircraft to Amsterdam. The first aircraft to depart from Amsterdam/Schiphol to Kristiansand/Kjevik and Oslo/Fornebo was the Douglas DC-2-115D, PH-AKI Kieviet. As mentioned before, no charter agreement has been found, but the Norwegians really wanted to join in. Already in the autumn of 1938 Bernt Balchen (technical director of DNL) had corresponded with the NV Nederlandsche Vliegtuigfabriek Fokker in Amsterdam about the possible purchase of Douglas DC-3s or DC-5s. Fokker did not recommend latter, as it had not yet made its first flight and could not be delivered until the end of 1939. On the other hand, the Douglas DC-3 could be delivered with the same type of engine as installed in the KLM-aircraft. But neither in 1938 nor 1939 any new aircraft were purchased (except a Caproni Ca 310, which was chartered from the Kjeller Flyfabrikk for the airmail service). In stead DNL hoped to be able to train its crews on the Douglas DC-2. On June 16 DNL sent a telegraph to KLM requesting permission to let Norwegian pilots fly along on the Douglas DC-2. KLM agreed, but restricted it to a status of observer. According to international laws the second pilot of the aircraft should also have a thorough training on the type. None of DNLs pilot had this and thus they could only fly as observer.

When the air service was opened a speech of the Statsråd Torp marked the beginning. He addressed the following words to the small crowd gather at the airport (translation from German version): “The city of Oslo is pleased with today’s opening of a new international air service. Although it is not the first time we start such connections since we have already air services to Germany, Sweden and Denmark. So far we had to make use of provisional airfields. Today we can open an air service from our new airfield Fornebo. Although the airfield is not finished yet and the official opening has to take place somewhere in the future, this day marks a new era. The plan of an air service between the Netherlands and Norway is already 20 years old. We have thus had plenty of time to get used to the importance of the air service. Since this plan now has been become a reality we belief in a justification of this venture and of the new cooperation between our countries. I say new cooperation, than as may well be known we have had a lively material and cultural connection across the sea between the Netherlands and Norway and not at last our city. Your ancestors, gentlemen, took along wood from our country, and as small curiosity may I remind you that a quarter in Amsterdam that carries a name that reminds us from a small village nearby, i.e. Droogbak – Drøbak…”. Furthermore, he compared the ships of the past with the elegant aircraft and expected that many would find their way to Norway. Statsråd Torp ended with the words “…It is known to us that the Dutch airline company, and especially its general manager Mr Albert Plesman, who himself stands for 20 years at the top of his own airline company, have waited long for the realization of this dream”.

The air service went smoothly throughout the summer season with daily flights between the three cities Oslo, Kristiansand and Amsterdam. The well-known KLM-pilot Iwan Smirnoff was also assigned to the air route and sent a complaint to the KLM-management about the delay of the aircraft on air service no. 1701: Bergen – Haugesund – Stavanger – Kristiansand. The matter was taken up by the KLM-management and DNL would try to improve regularity on this service. But on August 23, 1939, the Dutch Government issued a general mobilization order, leading to the interruption of all KLM air services. War was at hand and pilots were needed for the air force. After a few days a number of pilots could return and KLM could resume some of its service. On August 31 KLM could resume its Norway Air Express, but had to alter its schedule in such a way that the aircraft could make a return flight per day. Up to August 23, one aircraft flew to Oslo and returned the following day. The following changes were made during the autumn.

On August 31 the line was operated as follows:

Hour City Hour
11.30 am dep. Amsterdam arr. 9.05 pm
2.05 pm arr. Kristiansand dep. 5.45 pm
2.25 pm dep. Kristiansand arr. 5.25 pm
3.35 pm arr. Oslo dep. 4.15 pm

As it was forbidden to fly at night the time schedule had to be altered again. From respectively September 1 and 2 the service changed into three times weekly in each direction. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday from Amsterdam to Oslo and on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from Oslo to Amsterdam. But on September 2 the Norwegian Government prohibited the export of aircraft petrol, thus leading to the discontinuation of the air service as from September 2. On these two day the follow schedule was upheld.

Hour City Hour
12 noon dep. Amsterdam arr. 3.15 pm
2.55 pm arr. Kristiansand dep. 11.40 am
3.15 pm dep. Kristiansand arr. 11.20 am
4.25 pm arr. Oslo dep. 10.10 am

On September 5, the Norwegian Government granted a quota of 3,000 litres of aircraft petrol per week, allowing DNL and KLM to resume the air service with the following schedule, operated three times per week and from September 6 until September 30.

Hour City Hour
12 noon dep. Amsterdam arr. 3.15 pm
2.55 pm arr. Kristiansand dep. 11.40 am
3.15 pm dep. Kristiansand arr. 11.20 am
4.25 pm arr. Oslo dep. 10.10 am

Finally, in order to assure a connection to Brussels and Shoreham (the main air field for London since the start of the war) the departure from Oslo had to be set at 08.45 am. In principal the service was to be flown for just two weeks, but DNL and KLM managed to obtain permission to continue throughout the month of October. A further extension of the season could not be obtained. The last period in 1939 was thus October 1 – 31. Three times a week an aircraft made one flight:

Hour City Hour
12 noon * dep. Amsterdam arr. 1.50 pm *
2.55 pm arr. Kristiansand dep. 10.15 am
3.15 pm dep. Kristiansand arr. 09.55 am
4.25 pm arr. Oslo dep. 08.45 am

* From October 8 (end of summer time) one hour earlier.

On September 9, DNL request the FD to a change of the air service Oslo – Kristiansand – Amsterdam into Oslo – Aalborg – Amsterdam, with connection in Aalborg to Copenhagen and Malmö. In addition three weekly connections would be opened between Aalborg and Kristiansand. The FD did not approve this change with reference to the concession, which always had stipulated that the connection between Oslo and Amsterdam would go via Kristiansand. By Royal Degree of September 7, 1939 the Norwegian Government issued a prohibition of all civil flying across Norwegian territory, with the exception of three air routes: London – Newcastle – Stavanger (Oslo) – Stockholm – Helsinki, Amsterdam – Kristiansand – Oslo and Aalborg – Kristiansand. It was probably this that made DNL and KLM request for the change in the air route.

But on October 31, the air service was discontinued for the rest of the year and not opened until April 1940.

The results of the first year

The direct connection had as major advantage that it was not only the shortest distance through the air between Norway and the Netherlands, but also between Norway and Western Europe. Its transfer point Amsterdam Schiphol Airport was the gateway for many connections to European cities. The service however, found stiff competition from the air service number 27, which ran from Oslo via Copenhagen to Hamburg and London. Deutsche Lufthansa AG and DDL operated the route by fast four-engine Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor.

The results of the Norway Air Express for the first year should be divided into two periods: June 1 – September 1 (when the Second World War broke out) and September 1 – October 31. Although the air service had been operated with a loss during the whole season, the financial result was better than expected taking into consideration the competition with air service 27 (see below). Up to August 23, KLM could operate the service without any problems, but on that day a general mobilization order was issued, leading to the loss of all pilots. The development of the air route up to August 23 was as could be expected. The second period saw a dramatic increase in the revenue due to the transportation of refugees and military personnel. The line was even operated with a profit.

The competition (Deutsche Lufthansa AG and DDL) flew between June 1 and September 2 the air service Oslo – Gothenburg – Copenhagen – Hamburg – London with modern aircraft of the type Focke Wulf Fw 200 Condor. They flew according to the below mentioned schedule:

Hour City Hour
9.40 am dep. Oslo arr. 4.50 pm
10.30 am arr. Gothenburg dep. 4.00 pm
10.50 am dep. Gothenburg arr. 3.40 pm
11.45 am arr. Copenhagen dep. 2.50 pm
12.05 noon dep. Copenhagen arr. 2.30 pm
1.00 pm arr. Hamburg dep. 1.35 pm
1.20 pm dep. Hamburg arr. 1.15 pm
3.55 pm arr. London dep. 10.45 am

From Copenhagen there also existed a perfect direct connection to Paris (Air service no. 215):

Hour City Hour
9.40 am dep. Oslo arr. 4.50 pm
10.30 am arr. Gothenburg dep. 4.00 pm
10.50 am dep. Gothenburg arr. 3.40 pm
11.45 am arr. Copenhagen dep. 2.50 pm
12.15 noon dep. Copenhagen arr. 1.40 pm
4.15 pm arr. Paris dep. 10.00 am

It is worth noticing that the travel time between Oslo and London by KLM/DNL-aircraft lasted 6 hours and 25 minutes and by DLH/DDL-aircraft 6 hours and 15 minutes. For Paris it was even worse: KLM/DNL used 7 hours and 15 minutes and by DLH/DDL 6 hours and 35 minutes. It must however be noticed that the cruising speed of the Focke Wulf-aircraft was 325 km/h and for the Douglas DC-2 around 275 km/h. This explains some of the difference in travel time.

In the period June 1 to October 31, 1939 the KLM-aircraft transported the following number of passengers from Oslo:

From Oslo to June July August Sept.  Oct.  Total 
Kristiansand 53 56 47 8 4 168 
Amsterdam 14 15 28 62 26 145
London 14 20 12 7 9 62
Paris 2 6 14 22
Others 21 9 5 6 32 73
Total 104 106 106 83 71 470

To Oslo:

To Oslo from June July August Sept. Oct. Total
Kristiansand 75 47 42 10 1 175
Amsterdam 22 16 25 26 19 108
London 14 8 14 1 3 40
Paris 6 3 2 1 12
Others 27 22 16 15 80
Total 144 96 99 38 38 415

During the month June, July and August Kristiansand was transit point for a service from Bergen, via Haugesund and Stavanger to Kristiansand and from Esbjerg and Aalborg (both in Denmark) to Kristiansand. It must be said that the number of passengers flying from the mentioned destination to Oslo and Amsterdam was rather modest. The highest number of passengers could be found on the service between Oslo and Kristiansand and vice versa. More worrying was the statistic on the air service 27 operated by the competitors.

From Oslo to June July August Sept. Oct. Total
Copenhagen 86 74 61 221
Amsterdam 6 8 20 34
London 16 27 20 63
Paris 11 9 25 45
Others 66 76 71 213
Total 185 194 197 0 0 576

In the opposite direction the figures were as follows:

To Oslo from June July August Sept. Oct. Total
Copenhagen 97 74 100 271
Amsterdam 4 2 11 17
London 24 20 20 64
Paris 7 15 10 32
Others 65 78 68 211
Total 197 189 209 0 0 595

If you compare these figure it can be noted that the best results were obtained on the leg Amsterdam – Oslo, where the Dutch passengers changed from flying via Copenhagen to the direct flight. The freight on the KLM/DNL-service was not bad either:

From Oslo to June July August Sept. Oct.


Amsterdam 17 1 1 118 30 167
Kristiansand 79 11 68 4 162
Total 96 12 69 122 30 329
From Krs to June July August Sept. Oct.


Amsterdam 1 7 8
Oslo 20 28 48
Total 21 0 28 7 0 56
To Oslo from June July August Sept. Oct.


Amsterdam 2039 2258 1444 845 863 7449
Kristiansand 20 28 48
Total 2059 2258 1472 845 863 7497
To Krs from June July August Sept. Oct.


Amsterdam 113 438 318 869
Oslo 79 11 68 4 162
Total 192 449 386 4 0 1031

All figures in kilograms. Krs stands for Kristiansand

Since the air service had become the official airmail service the amount of mail was very satisfactory according to the KLM. Especially in the direction from Norway to the Netherlands these figures were very good. But please note the national result as well!

From Oslo to June July August Sept. Oct. Total
Amsterdam 635 855 808 992 2200 5490
Kristiansand 1218 1357 1016 340 132 4063
Total 1853 2212 1824 1332 2332 9553
From Krs to June July August Sept. Oct. Total
Amsterdam 153 135 150 21 8 467
Oslo 1277 1263 1069 104 84 3797
Total 1430 1398 1219 125 92 4264
To Oslo from June July August Sept. Oct. Total
Amsterdam 255 324 213 228 361 1381
Kristiansand 1277 1263 1069 104 84 3797
Total 1532 1587 1282 332 445 5178
To Krs from June July August Sept. Oct. Total
Amsterdam 47 2 3 52
Oslo 1218 1357 1016 340 132 4063
Total 1265 1357 1018 343 132 4115

All figures in kilograms.

It must be said that the results for Kristiansand were very disappointing. The KLM was therefore interested to see if in the future a direct flight between Amsterdam and Oslo would be possible. In the period June – August 1939 (when a connection to and from Bergen existed) 90 passengers between Amsterdam and Kristiansand or vice versa were carried. The costs for the landing at Kristiansand were above those of other European cities: A difference of maximum 1200 Norwegian Kroner per month. These two reasons meant that Kristiansand was considered dropped in favour of a direct connection. But unfortunately for KLM a direct flight would mean that more fuel would have to carry along, leading to a lower payload per flight. The aircraft could than only carry seven passengers and 200 kg of cargo. That was far too few. It was therefore for the moment better to keep Kristiansand, especially because of the connection to and from Bergen. If this route could be run more efficient KLM believed the results might improve in the coming years.

With regard to the regularity on the air service KLM was content. Only the stop in Kristiansand was a problem. In the direction Amsterdam to Oslo the scheduled twenty minutes stop in Kristiansand was most of the time extended to 25 (July and August), 18 (September) and 29 minutes (October). Latter figure was due to the early arrival of the aircraft in Kristiansand. On the service from Oslo to Amsterdam the aircraft arrived in average 19 minutes too late in Amsterdam and was the stop in Kristiansand between 32 and 34 minutes instead of 20. But as a whole KLM was content with the 20 minutes.

KLMs biggest disappointment was the lack of traffic from the west coast of Norway and Kristiansand to Amsterdam. Traffic to London was not as high as expected either. This was especially due to the competition of air service 32 of DLH and DDL. Also the traffic between Oslo and Kristiansand was not as high as could be expected. The reason for this lack of traffic was that it was mainly operated during the summer months. An earlier opening of the service would give more business traffic. More or less the same tendency could be registered in the south-north direction. Between June 1 and September 1 an average number of 4.4 passengers per aircraft between Oslo and Kristiansand could be registered. Between Kristiansand and Amsterdam this figure was just 3. In the next period (September 6 – October 31) it did not change much in southern direction (2.9 to 2.8) and for Kristiansand – Amsterdam from 3 to 6). The fact that so many flew in southern direction could be explained by the fact that tourist returned home at the outbreak of the Second World War. After the outbreak the changing of the schedule has certainly influenced the traffic as well. Mr Ten Hooven made the remark that the potential for the route was present but that more advertisement was needed. Also an expansion of the flying season would make it possible to increase the results. Costs could be limited as well, when Oslo Fornebo and Kristiansand Kjevik received the status of custom airport, thus reducing the custom fees.

The start and the end of the 1940-season

In 1940 the air route could not be opened until at least April 1940. This despite the wish of the airline companies to make the service an all-year around service. But the service was operated with special aircraft as well. After the incident with a DC-3 near the island of Helgoland, where a German fighter attacked the Dutch aircraft, KLM painted its aircraft orange and applied in big letters the word “HOLLAND” on the fuselage. In addition there were other modifications. To prevent unwanted sightings (e.g. espionage) the cabin windows of the aircraft were painted black, on other flights an additional first pilot was added and aircraft were equipped with signal lamps and rear mirrors. In addition the aircraft flew a more northern route on their way to Norway and flew at a higher altitude (up to 3,000 metres). Every 15 minutes a radio signal was sent. These measures were sufficient to prevent any further incidents.

From November 1, 1939 until March 31, the air service was discontinued, but could on April 1, 1940 be re-opened by the Douglas DC-3s of the KLM. Only one of the aircraft used on the air route has been confirmed: the Douglas DC-3-194E, PH-ASK Kemphaan (c/n 2036).  This aircraft was delivered to KLM in April 1938 and mainly used on KLMs European network. On April 8, the aircraft had arrived at Fornebo at the end of the afternoon and was to stay overnight. The KLM-captain Evert van Dijk witnessed the German attack in the early hours of April 9 and soon realised that he would not be able to return to the Netherlands. The German occupation forces could not seize the aircraft since the Netherlands was a neutral country. Van Dijk was therefore allowed to return to Amsterdam without passengers and freight on April 14. KLM had to discontinue its complete Scandinavian network. The route to Copenhagen and Stockholm was of course also discontinued as Denmark had been occupied as well. Thus the 1940-season lasted only 8 days. Any results for this line have so far not been found.

It was not until April 1, 1946 that KLM could re-open its air service between Amsterdam and Oslo and in 2004 the air service can celebrate the fact that the air service was opened for 65 years ago. The link between the two countries is regarded as very important. KLM now operates 4-5 daily flights from Oslo to Amsterdam, in addition to flights from Sandefjord Torp, Stavanger, Bergen and Trondheim to Amsterdam. In 2004 KLM will open its service to Kristiansand again.

A Haan (cock) with a long life


In September 1981 I visited by coach the Finnish town of Hämeenlinna in connection with work and before I knew it I had past a unique site in Dutch aviation: the coffee shop of Hämeenlinna in the shape of a Douglas DC-2! It turned out to be former PH-AKH “Haan” (Cock, c/n 1354). But now it had a more Finnish appearance. This DC-2-115E had made its first flight on January 5, 1935 in sunny California (at Santa Monica). It was the third aircraft to be delivered to the Royal Dutch Airlines KLM and it made on May 1, 1935 with Captain G M H Frijns as first pilot the maiden flight for this company on the new air service Amsterdam – Frankfurt – Milano. It also served on the prestigious Amsterdam – Batavia (now Djakarta, Indonesia) route, but had after the introduction of the Douglas DC-3 been transferred back to the European network. It inaugurated on June 1, 1939 the Oslo – Kristiansand – Amsterdam route from Oslo.

In January 1940 KLM sold the aircraft to its Swedish partner AB Aerotransport, where its was registered as SE-AKE. The Swedish pilot Count Carl Gustav von Rosen transferred the aircraft on January 12 from Amsterdam to Malmö en Stockholm. The aircraft passed directly on to Count Von Rosen and he donated it to the Finnish Air Force (registration DC-1 and later DO-1), which was in great need of aircraft. He flew it for the Finnish Air Force as a bomber including a machine gun turret. Later it was used for the transportation of children from Finland to Sweden and for the transportation of Finnish pilots to Germany. These pilots were to pick up aircraft for the Finnish Air Force. In Germany it has been bombed and attacked by fighters but it could always be repaired. After the Second World War it was used for aerial photography and made on May 29, 1955 its last flight. In August 1958 it was sold as a coffee shop in Hämeenlinna. In November 1981 it was transferred to the National Aviation Museum in Helsinki where it is on display.