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ALM - ANTILLEAN AIRLINES

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ALM - Antilliaanse Luchtvaart Maatschappij
(update March 2020)

On the 1st of August 1964 the West Indian Wing of the KLM was converted into the Antillean Airlines (Antilliaanse Luchtvaart Maatschappij) ALM and operated as part of the KLM. ALM started out with three Convair 340s and served 7 destinations. Its first Convair PJ-CVC named "Curacao" was painted with full ALM colors, flew from Curacao "Hato" airport to Aruba. The tail markings closely resembled its parent company KLM. The "Six Stars" design, which also appears on the Antillean national flag, symbolize the six Islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St Maarten, St Eustatius and Saba. Next to the airline business ALM also provided catering and airline servicing for other companies making use of Curacao and Aruba airport. Main destinations were Aruba, Bonaire, St Maarten, St Kitts, Maracaibo, Barranquilla and Caracas. Due to the surge in tourism ALM quickly grew and the Convairs were replaced by two DC-9-15s Jets (ex KLM) and two brand new Fokker F-27-500 series. New destination were added and an ex Viasa DC-9 was added into the fleet. The period between 1968 and 1969 was crucial for ALM. As off the 1st January 1969 the Antillean government took 96 % shares over from the KLM and it became a state owned company. To further make use of the booming tourist industry a DC-8 (from KLM) was chartered. Now ALM was able to fly directly to New York and Miami. Later on Panama and Costa Rica was added to ALM destinations. The New York to St Maarten route (1970 to 1973) was flown with a chartered Boeing 727 from Braniff Airlines and later with an ONA Douglas DC-9.

The Fokker F-27s where replaced by a third DC-9-15 also from KLM and it became a all-jet company. Soon after, a Beech "Queen Air" was used for small charter work. During this time (Aug 1972) a Douglas DC-6B was purchased for the cargo routes. It became apparent that on the short flights to Aruba and Bonaire the DC-9 was not cost effective. A temporary solution was found in the shape of two Twin Otter 100 series. After a bumpy start the Twin Otter became a success with the passengers and two further machines (series 300) were added.

During 1975 ALM replaced it DC-9s with brand new DC-9 series 32s. This increased seating capacity significantly. Two years later a Boeing B727 was added for additional routes to Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and New York, which were mostly charters. During this period ALM grew rapidly and its personal size doubled in 1977. A year later a bi-lateral agreement between the Antillean government and the US was reached whereby ALM was allowed to take over the routes from KLM to the USA. To cope with the demand two DC-8-53s were leased from Rosenbalm Aviation. Additionally the Twin Otters where replaced by Shorts SD-330 commuter aircrafts.

1979 was a turning point for ALM. Due to the low point of the oil prices coupled with slow tourist figures and the devaluation of the Venezuelan currency, brought ALM into trouble. Additionally ALM had to deal with competing business from Eastern and American Airlines on the same routes. The DC-8 flights were halted and the newly arrived Short 330s were sold off. During 1980 the B727 and Beech Queen Air left the company and ALM concentrated on its fleet of four DC-9-32s. During 1982 ALM decided to replace some of its DC-9s with two McDonnell Douglas MD-80s, which were leased from Curacao Aircraft Leasing Comp. A 3rd example was later purchased from Continental airlines. With business slowly getting better ALM was able to purchase additional airplanes and funny enough the purchased two elderly Fairchild FH-227Bs from Delta Air Transport for the short haul routes. Due to the separate status of the Island of Aruba (1988) ALM had to take in account with another competitor on the Aruba service. Air Aruba was using two Nihon YS-11s on direct competition to Hato Airport. By early 1989 ALM was only serving 13 destinations within the Caribbean basin and to Miami and New York. During the 1990s ALM managed to stay in business despite stiff US competition and political changes in the aviation industry. Early 1991 KLM re-invested into ALM with some minor shares. But due to lack of government and public interest ALM could not keep up and slowly went into a dire situation.

ALM went into bankruptcy by early September 2001.

Credits: KLM Historie/Forum/ALM, From Wikipedia, FlickR photo’s, Collectie Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, the free encyclopedia, private brochures and postcards collection.

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