Netherlands marks 100 years of aviation

Towards a sustainable future


Aviation pioneers KLM, GKN Fokker and the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) today jointly marked their centenary at the EYE Film Museum in Amsterdam. At this location, precisely 100 years ago, the First Aviation Exhibition Amsterdam (ELTA) was held. At today’s event, speakers looked back on 100 years of Dutch aviation and forward to a sustainable future. King Willem Alexander was on hand to mint a special commemorative coin, and Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen of Infrastructure and Water Management was presented with a special series of aviation postage stamps. There was also a flypast of modern and vintage aircrafts over the waters of the IJ, behind Amsterdam Central Station. 

At the event, speakers commemorated the contribution these Dutch pioneers had made to international civil aviation and discussed the challenges facing airlines in the Netherlands, which are committed to operating in a smart, sustainable and economically viable manner. The King also met with students participating in a special challenge for the centenary year. The students presented their innovative ideas for a number of sustainability issues.

Economic impulse for the NetherlandsOver the past 100 years, the Dutch aviation industry has served as an ambassador and figurehead for the Netherlands in the global community. To this day, our industry continues to give a positive impulse to the economy of the Netherlands. The Dutch pioneering spirit has ensured that many hundreds of millions of people worldwide have been brought together, thanks to the efforts of our founding fathers. As Albert Plesman so aptly put it: “The ocean of the air connects us all.”


Impulse for sustainabilityAt the gathering, presentations were give on the development of international civil aviation and the challenges the Dutch aviation industry faces to keep flying in a smart, sustainable and economically viable manner. Major efforts are required to achieve this, both in the short and long term, which will see the sector pursuing innovations in technology, infrastructure and airspace utilisation.

“Over the past 100 years, KLM has earned a superb reputation in international air transport. We have always embodied the typical Dutch pioneering and enterprising spirit, which remains an integral part of our brand. I look back on the past 100 years with pride, but also look forward with confidence to the challenges we face on the road ahead.”​
Pieter Elbers, President & CEO of KLM
“We are proud to be part of the successful Netherlands aviation industry, together with KLM, NLR and many other businesses that have jointly created a host of technological innovations. The innovative entrepreneurship of our earliest aviation pioneers has evolved into a world-class aviation ecosystem. We are perfectly positioned to shape a sustainable future together.”​
John Pritchard, CEO of GKN Fokker
“For the past 100 years, we have helped make aviation cleaner and quieter, but our current focus is on the year 2070, when we hope to achieve emission-free flight. We are committed to contributing to this cause. This will not take place in the evolutionary manner, but will demand a revolutionary approach, requiring outside-the-box solutions. That is precisely what we intend to do.”
Michel Peters, General Director of NLR













KLM's first commercial flight between London and Amsterdam was carried out on 17 May 1920.