Martinair operates its last passenger flight

Martinair (Amsterdam) with a special edition of its inflight magazine entitled “Thank you for Flying”, said farewell to its many passengers, looking back on a rich history in Dutch aviation. On the last day, October 31, 2011, a ceremonial roundtrip flight was operated above the Netherlands using this Boeing 767-300. According to the airline, “In the same way that passenger transport first began in 1958 with a round-trip flight, so too will it end. The words BEDANKT!, which mean; thank you, was printed under the aircraft”.

PH-MCL flew low over the cities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Martinair colleagues were out in force at Schiphol to greet the aircraft for the formal goodbye, which took place in the Martinair hangar. Martin Schröder will symbolically rename an MD-11 with his name as a gesture of goodwill for the future of “his” company as a cargo carrier.

On September 23, 2010 it was announced that Martinair would discontinue passenger operations due to insufficient economies of scale, concentrating instead on cargo transportation effective on November 1, 2011.

In the ensuing year passenger activities were scaled down and the fleet and number of destinations reduced. It was agreed with the trade unions that the pilots and cabin crew affected would be given a safe haven at KLM. A large number of ground crew have been able to do the same.

Martinair was established on May 24, 1958 by aviation pioneer Martin Schröder. At the time the airline did not carry its present name, but was called “Martin’s Air Charter” (MAC). With a fleet counting but one aircraft and a workforce of five, the fledgling airline operated roundtrip flights above Amsterdam and ad-hoc passenger and cargo flights. MAC’s first destination was Palma de Mallorca, with more than five long hours in the air, coffee from a flask and homemade sandwiches instead of a hot meal.

The airline’s operations and fleet expanded gradually in the 1960s. With the introduction of the DC-3s, a DC-4, DC-7s, Doves and a Convair 440, a start was made operating vacation flights in cooperation with tour operators. Worldwide cargo services and special missions were initiated, too, including the transport of Tibetan refugees to Switzerland for the Red Cross and, later, the flights carrying relief supplies for famine-stricken Biafra.

In 1966, the airline changed its name from MAC to “Martinair Holland”.

Martinair purchased its first DC-8 and DC-9 jet aircraft and the airline expanded once again.

In the 1970s Martinair added the DC-10 and a new Fokker F.28 (PH-PBX) government aircraft. As a result Martinair became the Netherlands’ Royal Airline.

In the 1980s first two Boeing 747s were added to the fleet. To create space for these massive aircraft, construction of Hangar 4 was initiated at Schiphol-East. Several years later, Hangar 32 followed.

The first Jumbo jet arrived at Schiphol in 1987, followed by a second a year later. Long-range passenger Boeing 767-300 ERs were purchased to serve the market in Florida and the Caribbean which began to expand towards the end of the 1980s.

In the 1990s the DC-10s were replaced with the more modern MD-11s.

Martinair President and CEO Martin Schröder withdrew from active service in 1998, 40 years after the airline’s establishment.

In 2002, CFO Arie Verberk took over from Aart van Bochove at the helm as Martinair’s President and CEO. The cargo fleet was expanded with the addition of a Boeing 747 and an MD-11. And, in the passenger fleet, a Boeing 767 and the last Boeing 757 were replaced by three new Airbus A320s, enabling Martinair to serve more markets.

Copyright Photo: Keith Burton.

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Photo: Martinair. Martinair uniforms over the years: