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lundi 1 janvier 2007

The airline was established in 1964, and started operations on 1 August 1964, as Antilliaanse Luchtvaart Maatschappij (ALM), to take over the services of the Caribbean division of European giant KLM. KLM wanted to compete with Pan Am in the Caribbean and in South America and so created ALM, leasing the airline Douglas DC-8 jets so the airline could reach places like John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. On 1 January 1969, ALM's major shareholding was transferred from KLM to the Netherlands Antilles government.

Eventually, ALM grew into a large Caribbean-area airline, with flights to Miami International Airport, to Trinidad and Tobago, and Santo Domingo. They also operated an intensive inter-island connection, flights to many large Venezuelan cities and flights to Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, then known as Isla Verde International, in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The Luis Muñoz Marín route would become a staple of the airline. Except for a short period in the late 1980s, they served Luis Muñoz until their bankruptcy.

Such expansion gave ALM the need for a smaller airplane that could efficiently cover short, international or domestic routes with good passenger loads. They therefore introduced the Douglas DC-9, among the smallest of the jet aircraft available. The DC-9 proved efficient for the airline for two decades and the DC-8s were soon returned to KLM.

Political changes such as the autonomy of Aruba from the Netherlands Antilles affected the airline: not only did they have to decrease their frequencies from the new country, but they also faced new competition in the shape of Air Aruba, another DC-9 operator that had a large share of passengers on Caribbean routes for many years. In April 1991, KLM became a minority shareholder in the airline again. ALM during the 1990s grew disenchanted with their association with KLM, obtaining independence from the European airline a few years after the start of that decade, selling their DC-9s and settling for service as an all-propeller airline. ALM became part of the ALM Group of Companies in December 1997.

Air ALM as successor-in-interest to ALM was consequently designated national carrier of the Netherlands Antilles. As Air ALM, they re-introduced services to Puerto Rico, and the flights to Venezuelan cities were kept. It is ironic that Air ALM went into direct competition with their creators at KLM during their later years, offering flights to Amsterdam with a partner airline.

Government and public uninterest drove the airline into bankruptcy and in September 2001 it was dissolved. By then, some of Air ALM's airplanes were broken-up near Curaçao's airport, and no one was willing to buy the airline. Air ALM was replaced with an all-new operation, Dutch Caribbean Airlines, but it ceased operating in October 2004.

Source Wikipedia