The reason why Air Holland ceased operations

Wikimedia Commons/Guido Potters

Back in 80s when airlines were booming in Europe a lot of new players arose. At that time KLM was proud Dutch flag carrier. Nevertheless, a new competitor Air Holland stepped into the market. The airline was founded in 1984 and seized its operations in 2004. The question arises – what happened to Air Holland?

The first airline that was founded by John Block in partnership with Martin Schroder was ‘Martin’s Air Charter,’ or MAC. After eight years of successful operations, the company was renamed to Martinair. The airline currently belongs to Air France – KLM group and is carrying out successful cargo operations to this day.

Foundation and development

In 1984, Block founded Air Holland. He wanted to make this airline the main flag carrier of the Netherlands. Unfortunately, he did not succeed as KLM together with Transavia moved to block the granting of the Air Operators Certificate for Air Holland. These airlines claimed that Dutch market would not be able to maintain any more charter operators and did their best to convince the Civil Aviation Authority of the Netherlands, the Rijksluchtvaartdienst, not to grant the permission. In the end, it took 5 years for Air Holland to gain AOC.


Boeing 727 was chosen to operate flights from Amsterdam’s regional airports as they were the ones that Air Holland got permission to operate from. Three years later 727s were replaced with Boeing 757. Over the next few years, the airline welcomed a total of 11 Boeing 757s, as well as four wide body 767s and three 737-300s.

Complete collapse of Air Holland

Air Holland ceased operations in 1991 due to financial difficulties. It had turned a profit the year before, but the next year the company lost about $28 million. Block left the company, and control transferred to financial director A R Marx. Despite the fact that a new head had come into the airline, Air Holland was still falling into a financial ruin.

Later, Belgian entrepreneur Tony Gram acquired the airline in a debt-for-shares swap in 2002, but with the airline owing Eurocontrol some $1.2m in unpaid charges, there was no time or space to turn things around.

The airline finished its work on 24th March 2004. Sadly, the company was surrounded by allegations of corruption, drug smuggling and laundering of drug money through its books.

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