This day in history: KLM's first flight from Amsterdam to Montreal


At that time, KLM had 400 pilots, including 50 Canadians. Two of the three pilots on the maiden flight were from Ontario: 26-year-old Richard John Rose and 37-year-old William Lesauvage.

The arrival of the Batavia at Dorval Airport on May 30, 1949 was greeted with a ceremonial reception. The aircraft was preceded by three Royal Canadian Air Force “Vampire” jet fighters. At the airport, the presence of distinguished visitors, including Albert Plesman, founding father and CEO of KLM, was greeted with a 21-gun salute and a guard of honour consisting of 100 men from the Royal Canadian Air Force.and Regiment of St. Jean. The Dutch national anthem was played by the regiment's band.

To celebrate the anniversary, honorary receptions were held at the Ritz Carlton, the Windsor Hotel and Montreal City Hall. In their speeches, the Dutch guests emphasized the long-standing relationship between the Netherlands and Canada and thanked the Canadian government and soldiers for welcoming the royal family to Ottawa and for their contribution to the liberation of the Netherlands during World War II.

“The launch of this service between Montreal and Amsterdam paved the way for KLM's presence in Canada and helped strengthen diplomatic and commercial relations between the two countries,” said Jean-Eudes de La Bretèche, General Manager of Air France KLM Canada. “With 75 years of presence, Canada occupies a special place in KLM's history and network. We are proud of this expansion and will offer up to 39 weekly flights this summer to our five Canadian destinations: Montreal (7), Toronto (14), Vancouver (7), Calgary (7) and Edmonton (4).

Even before the opening of the Amsterdam-Montreal route, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines had been landing planes in Dorval and thus played an important role in transporting Dutch families. Charter flights were organized to enable these families to immigrate and build a new life in Canada, particularly in Ontario and the western provinces.