KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is marking the 103rd anniversary of its founding on 07OCT with the creation and presentation of a new Delftware miniature house, another addition to the miniatures that have become niche collectibles for fans of air travel and the famous Dutch porcelain.
Since the 1950s, KLM has been presenting Delftware miniature houses filled with Bols Dutch genever to World Business Class passengers on intercontinental flights. The miniatures are replicas of historic buildings in the Netherlands and abroad and are sought-after collectors' items. Since 1994, KLM has added a new miniature to its collection every year on the anniversary of its founding.
But in 2022, the replica of a traditional Dutch house in iconic blue and white china represents a very special location: the Dutch island of Aruba. It's only the second time in KLM's history that a Delftware miniature is based on a building outside the Netherlands. (On KLM's 85th anniversary, the airline presented a replica of the distinctive Penha Building in Curaçao.)
This year's miniature Delftware house is a model of the Ecury family home in Oranjestad on Aruba.
The Ecury House has been part of the National Archaeological Museum of Aruba since 2009 and forms the heart of the museum. It was built in 1929 and features a facade with classical elements, Caribbean gingerbread detailing and local decorative elements. This imposing and harmonious ensemble is a unique creation by the architect Dada Picus.
In addition, Aruba will be marking a centenary of aviation next year and the Ecury House is close to the site where the first aircraft landed, and furthermore, the Ecury family played a significant role in the development of aviation on the island.
KLM first flew to Aruba almost ninety years ago and made the island its operational hub for scheduled services across the Caribbean. KLM began operating scheduled services between Amsterdam and Aruba in 1974 and now operates daily flights between the two.
KLM President & CEO Marjan Rintel travelled to Aruba to present the airline's latest Delftware miniature to Agustin Vrolijk, Acting Governor of Aruba, and the Ecury family, and said, "I don't know whether the founders of KLM could have imagined back in 1919 that we would still be celebrating the airline’s anniversary 103 years later. This year we're doing so on lovely Aruba, a KLM destination for almost fifty years, where we're kicking off celebrations today marking a centenary of aviation on the island. KLM has had many ups and downs over the past century, but we’ve always marked our anniversary on 7 October, because we want to keep celebrating that KLM is a wonderful company that connects the Netherlands with the world. We should be proud of that.”
1934: KLM lands on Aruba for the first time
In December 1934, a triple-engine KLM Fokker F-XVIII, christened “the Snip”, flew from Amsterdam to Curaçao in seven days, stopping in Marseille, Alicante, Casablanca, Porto Praia, Paramaribo and La Guaria. This was KLM's very first transatlantic flight and it was only possible because of the various stopovers, modifications to the aircraft's cabin and the absence of passengers. The purpose of the flight was to station an aircraft in the Dutch Antilles. The Snip touched down on Aruba for the first time on 23 December. Scheduled service between Curaçao and Aruba began on 19 January 1935, which was the first flight operated by KLM’s West-Indian Branch (WIB). KLM began operating scheduled direct service between Amsterdam and Aruba on 11 February 1974.
Centenary of aviation on Aruba
Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the first flight’s arrival on Aruba. Since then, the airline industry has connected Aruba – also known as “One Happy Island” – with the rest of the world and fuelled its local economy, which now revolves largely around tourism. Aruba Airport welcomes around 2.5 million passengers annually and has grown significantly over time.
"I couldn’t imagine a better way to kick off next year’s anniversary, celebrating 100 years of aviation on Aruba, than with this gift from KLM; adding an Aruban house to their collection of Delftware miniatures," said Joost Meijs, CEO, Queen Beatrix International Airport Aruba. "This miniature marks KLM's 103rd anniversary and is a great prelude to the centenary celebrations in 2023, which will involve the entire community. We are very proud that KLM has chosen the Ecury House, one of Aruba's most cherished heritage sites. It will add an Aruban flavour to KLM's collection of miniature houses, safeguard and promote the importance of our cultural heritage, and help us achieve our cultural aim of sustainable development on the island.”
“We are immensely proud that KLM has based its latest miniature house on a building on Aruba, more so because the Ecury family home was chosen. Doing so acknowledges the productive relationship we have had with KLM for many decades, as well as our shared history," added Ronella Croes, CEO, Aruba Tourism Authority. "Thanks in part to KLM, international tourism is thriving here, allowing us to build invaluable relationships. Choosing the Ecury family home as the model for its Delftware miniature house also spotlights our cultural heritage and brings it to the attention of a wider public. We hope this will encourage current and potential travellers to come to Aruba and explore our unique Caribbean culture.”