The first airplane took off in 1903, and since then the aviation industry has escalated to a level far greater than the Wright brothers’ may have ever imagined. Not long after, commercial airlines came into existence, breaking flight records as technology advances (and still do to this day).

Some of those carriers that formed almost a century ago still fly to this day. Here are the top five oldest airlines in the world that continue to operate since the first it was established. The list considers major airlines that were created under one name and stayed almost the same as it did when the airline was founded, without becoming a completely different carrier.


KLM, which stands for Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V., is the oldest airline in the world still operating today. The Netherlands’ airline, founded on 7 October 1919, first flew in 1920 from Amsterdam to London and back. It wasn’t until 1934 that KLM flew from Amsterdam to Curaçao, the first flight across the Atlantic Ocean.


Columbia’s Avianca is the second oldest airline in the world that continues to operate to this day. Established on 5 December 1919, the airline was originally named Sociedad Colombo Alemana de Transporte Aéreo, and then renamed to Aerovías Nacionales de Colombia, Avianca for short.

The airline took its first flight in September of 1920 from Barranquilla to Puerto Berrio, two cities in Columbia.


Qantas, Australia’s prestigious airline, was created on 16 November 1920. Qantas, short for Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd., was first used for joy rides and air taxi services, however, the first “real” flight considered to be a commercial one, was from Charleville to Cloncurry in Queensland, Australia.


Russia’s major airline, Aeroflot, came into existence on 17 March 1923. It was originally named Dobrolyot before it was renamed to Aeroflot. The first flight it took was in July of 1932 from Moscow to Nizhniy Novgorod in Russia.

Czech Airlines

Before the Czech Republic, it was Czechoslovakia. While it was still dominated by the U.S.S.R, it formed the airline called Czechoslovak State Airlines but was renamed Czech Airlines once it became a sovereign nation. The airline was established on 6 October 1923 with the first flight taking off from Prague and landing in Bratislava.

Some of the other oldest airlines that continue to operate today are Finnair (founded on 1 November 1923), Delta Air Lines (founded on 30 May 1924), Tajik Air (founded on 3 September 1924), Air Serbia (founded on 17 June 1927) and Iberia (founded on 28 June 1927).

How many of these have you flown on?