Airlines Remembered

Dutch Caribbean Airlines - DCA

Photos © R.Leeuw


Ceased operations: 09Oct2004
Homebase: Curacao-Hato, Dutch Antilles
Founded: 1964
ICAO callsign: Antillean
IATA / ICAO prefix: K8 / ALM
Operations: passengers

767-300 OO-SLT
Boeing 767-330(ER) OO-SLT (c/n 25208/381) is seen here on take off with its nosewheel just lifting...
Titles on the fuselage include "Bridge to Curacao" and "Operated by Sobelair".
Amsterdam IAP 28Oct03

Dutch Caribbean Airlines Inc. ceased operations on 09Oct04 and after having filed for bankruptcy on 01Oct04 (which the courts confirmed in November).
The airline had formerly been operating as Air ALM and ALM Antillean Airlines.
DCA had been operating long-haul flights to Amsterdam with Boeing 767s of Air Holland, but when this company went bankrupt it turned to Sobelair.
Sobelair was looking for its own destiny after the bankruptcy of parent company Sabena and indeed could use such a long-term contact; during 2003 Boeing 767-300(ER) OO-SLT was painted in DCA's colourscheme. Unfortunately, Sobelair went bankrupt as well and this was the final blow to struggling DCA.

Airliner service from Amsterdam to the Dutch Antilles date from the very first years of commercial aviation. It started with KLM stationing a Fokker F-XVIII (tri-engine) at Curacao, which landed 8 days after take-off from Schiphol, on 22Dec34 (after a trip of 11,000 kms...4,000 over water!). The flight carried mail.
Services were maintained by the KLM during W.W.2. After the war trial services were made via Dakar and Paramaribo, but during 1946 was changed for a routing vi aNew York. Douglas DC-3s and DC-4s were used in the immediate post-war period, but were replaced by Convair CV340s in 1954 (when the Dutch Colonies were given the full status of provinces of the Netherlands.
On 01Aug64 the West Indies Division of KLM was converted into the wholly-owned subsidiary ALM-Antilliaanse Luchtvaart Maatschappij (Antillean Aviation Company) and Convair CV880 jetss joined the fleet.ALM became independent on 01Jan69.
The Convair CV340s were replaced by, initailly Fokker F.27s, but in 1971 these were again replaced by Douglas DC-9s so at that point ALM had an all-jets fleet.
In 1978, KLM restarted more extensive cooperation with ALM. 2 DC8s were brought into service and served the route Curaçao-New York JFK, where KLM handled the ground services.

The fleetlist in 1978
RegistrationAircraft TypeConstruction number
PJ-ALMBeech 65 Queen Air B80LD213
PJ-BOABoeing 727-173C19506
PJ-SNADouglas DC-9-3247648
PJ-SNBDouglas DC-9-3247666
PJ-SNCDouglas DC-9-3247669
PJ-SNDDouglas DC-9-3247639
--Short SD-330on order
--Short SD-330on order

Peter ten Duis wrote me in March 2015, adding one I seem to have missed!
PJ-SNE (cn 47175, sn 298)- ex N3334L Delta, ALM 'St Maarten' during July 1980 -03Jun83 (incl a lease to VIASA Aug81-Dec81) and afterwards as N3991C to American International, Republic and Northwest. 'Curtains' in February2008: broken up in Marana,AZ.

PJ-SNK (c) Brian McDonough
DC-9-31 PJ-SNK (c/n 48144/1039) was photographed at Miami,FL on 24Jun04 by Brian McDonough.

From 1970 through 1982, ALM kept making losses: competition was all around (both on inter-island traffic, as well as on long-haul flights).
The Amsterdam-Curaçao route was run jointly with KLM, but the cooperation ended in 2000. In a legal manoeuver to avoid bankruptcy, ALM was then taken over by Dutch Caribbean Airlines, owned by DC Beheer (a holding company). DCA became a competitor of KLM on the AMS-CUR route.
In August 2004, Curaçao made 3,3 miljoen euro available to DCA to recover stranded passengers in the Netherlands and Curaçao. A condition was to have a solid businessplan for DCA's recovery within a month. In March 2004 Curaçao had made 6,8 miljoen euro available to pay off debts.
By October it was all over.

The fleetlist in 2004
PJ-TOCDe Havilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otter Srs 300371
PJ-TODDe Havilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otter Srs 300675
PJ-SNK McDonnell Douglas DC-9-3148144 / 1039
PJ-SNL McDonnell Douglas DC-9-3148154 / 1046
PJ-SNM McDonnell Douglas DC-9-3148139 / 1024
PJ-SNN McDonnell Douglas DC-9-3148138 / 1021
PJ-SEFMcDonnell Douglas MD-8249123 / 1075
PJ-SEGMcDonnell Douglas MD-8249124 / 1077
PJ-SEHMcDonnell Douglas MD-8249661 / 1452

Sources:
Airlines of Latin America since 1919, by R.E.G. Davies (Paladwr Press, 1997)
World Airline Fleets, 1978, by Gunther G. Endress
JP Airline Fleets 2004

Links :
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Created: 22-11-04 Updated: 02-03-15