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On 7 October 1919, eight Dutch businessmen, including Frits Fentener van Vlissingen, founded KLM—the abbreviation of Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij (Royal Airlines Company) as one of the first commercial airline companies.
Plesman became its first administrator and director.
KLM is headquartered in Amstelveen, with its hub at nearby Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
It is part of the Air France–KLM group, and is a member of the Sky Team airline alliance.
KLM was founded in 1919; it is the oldest airline in the world still operating under its original name and had 35,488 employees as of 2015 In 1919, a young aviator lieutenant named Albert Plesman sponsored the ELTA aviation exhibition in Amsterdam.
The exhibition was a great success; after it closed several Dutch commercial interests intended to establish a Dutch airline, which Plesman was nominated to head.
On 25 July 1957, the airline introduced its flight simulator for the Douglas DC-7C – the last KLM aircraft with piston engines – which opened the transpolar route from Amsterdam via Anchorage to Tokyo on 1 November 1958.
After the end of the Second World War in August 1945, KLM immediately started to rebuild its network.
Since the Dutch East Indies were in a state of revolt, Plesman's first priority was to re-establish KLM's route to Batavia. During the immediate post-war period, the Dutch government expressed interest in gaining a majority stake in KLM, thus nationalizing it.
In 1983, KLM took delivery of the first of ten Airbus A310 passenger jets. On 30 September 2003, Air France and KLM agreed to a merger plan in which Air France and KLM would become subsidiaries of a holding company called Air France–KLM.
KLM renewed its intercontinental fleets by replacing the Boeing 767s, Boeing 747-300s, and eventually the Mc Donnell Douglas MD-11, with Boeing 777-200ERs and Airbus A330-200s. Both airlines would retain their own brands, and both Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol would become key hubs.