Magazine about Aviation, Yacht & Boats, Auto and Technology

A Smile Has Been Flying Around the World for 60 Years.


  • The very first Austrian Airlines flight took place on March 31, 1958, heading for London
  • “A history, the company can be proud of” comments CEO Kay Kratky
  •  First edition of the anniversary book is out of print, new edition now available

The sky over Austria was red-white-red on March 31, 1958. For the first time, an Austrian Airlines aircraft took off on a commercial flight. The four-engine Vickers Viscount with the registration number OE-LAD flew to London. There was an extensive program of events for the invited guests i.e. cocktail receptions, dinners and city tours. In Vienna there was also an evening spent at the State Opera, where Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” was performed.

The inaugural flight turned into a major success. In addition to numerous congratulatory letters sent by invited guests and representatives of international airlines, a newspaper report praised the “Viennese smile” and the “warm hospitality” on board. The aircraft was British, but the atmosphere was Austrian, according to an article appearing in the newspaper “Neues Österreich” on July 6, 1958.

“In 1958 Austrian Airlines had four chartered Vickers Viscount aircraft and six destinations in its flight schedule”, explains Austrian Airlines CEO Kay Kratky. “60 years later, Austrian Airlines has a fleet of 82 jets and offers a global route network to about 130 destinations. This is a history, the company can be proud of.”

In addition to London, Austrian Airlines flew to other destinations in the year 1958 for the first time. On May 5, Austrian performed its first flight to Frankfurt, on May 10 to Zurich. A Vickers Viscount took off on the airline’s first commercial flight to Paris on May 27, followed by Rome on June 28 and Warsaw on October 17.

More detailed information on the history of Austrian Airlines can be found in the book in German entitled “Ein Lächeln fliegt um die Welt – Eine Zeitreise durch die Geschichte von Austrian Airlines” (A Smile Flies Around the World – A Journey Through the History of Austrian Airlines) written by Peter Baumgartner. Due to the fact that the first edition of the book is out of print, a second updated edition is now available from booksellers and at the Austrian Airlines Jetshop.

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Categorised in: Air Transport and cargo, Airline

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