Lufthansa Forerunner Deutsche Luft-Reederei Maiden Flight – Airways | Airlines

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DALLAS — Today, in 1919, German airline Deutsche Luft-Reederei (DLR) operated its inaugural flight, a 250 km route between Berlin and Weimar.

This cargo-only flight carried newspapers and mail between the two German cities. A converted AEG J II biplane operated the first service. The converted variant, the AEG K (K for Kabine or cabin), accommodated two passengers.

Deutsche Luft-Reederei was established on December 17, 1917. It became one of the founding members of the International Air Traffic Association, which would later become the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

A poster from 1920 advertising DLR and showing the stylized crane in-flight logo. Photo: Hans Rudi Erdt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Passenger Flights


Passenger service began in March 1919. DLR launched a service to Hamburg on March 1, 1919, and Warnemünde on April 15. By the end of its first year of operations, DLR had carried 2,921 passengers and 93,150 kg of mail.

Operations ceased on February 6, 1923, and the airline was renamed Deutscher Aero-Lloyd. In 1926, the German government merged Deutscher Aero-Lloyd with the country’s other largest air carrier, Junkers Luftverkehr. This created the nation’s new flag carrier, Deutsche Luft Hansa, which became today’s Lufthansa (LH).

Lufthansa’s stylized crane in-flight logo can be traced back to DLR. Designed by German architect and artist Otto Firle, the iconic look was adopted by Deutsche Luft Hansa in 1926 and carried over to LH in 1954.

The flying crane remains the main feature of LH’s livery today and is one of the oldest airline logos in the world.


Featured image: Deutsche Luft-Reederei with the identification D.L.R. 5 with the passengers Hans Albers and Elsbeth Kurasch. Photo: Hansa Luftbild G.m.b.H., Berlin SW 29, Flugplatz, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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