On January 1st, 1914, the first scheduled US commercial airline flight using a fixed wing aircraft occurred.
The passenger was Abram C. Pheil, the then Mayor of St. Petersburg. He flew to Tampa, Florida paying 400 dollars for the round trip ticket in a charity auction.
Pilot Tony Jannus flew a Benoist flying boat for St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line taking 23 minutes for the journey at a height of five metres (15 feet).
There were reported to be over 3,000 spectators at a parade accompanied by an Italian band at the departure point.
Kermit Weeks of Fantasy of Flight is building a reproduction of the original airboat for the anniversary. Additional information may be obtained at www.airlinecentennial.org.
The airline continued until May, 1914.
World War One interrupted the development of commercial airlines.
Post war saw a flurry of carriers including the first international carrier: Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited which had daily flights from London to Paris in 1919. Hungary launched a carrier which effectively operated as flag carrier from 1919 to 1939. One of the longest lasting US carriers Chalk’s Ocean Airways started in 1917. It survived until 2007.
The oldest airlines in the world still flying are
KLM (October, 1919)
Avianca (December, 1919)
Qantas (November, 1920)
Aeroflot (February, 1923)
Czech Airlines (October,1923)
Finnair (November, 1923)
Delta (May, 1924)
Now if we can just find a way for an airline to consistently make money in the next century…