Although by the thirties Surinam was linked by air to other countries (by KLM, among others), no Surinam aviation activities took place other than those of few private initiative launched the idea of creating a Surinam airline company, with the aim of linking its various towns on regular basis.
In 1955 Surinam Airways started its domestic activities and scheduled services were inaugurated between Paramaribo and the small bauxite town of Moengo, using pleasure planes. Then, on August 30th, 1962, the Surinaamse Luchtvaart Maatschappij was officially established. At the same time the Government had become aware of the need for a larger number of landing sites spread throughout the country, especially to open up the interior. SLM assisted by acquiring Bell-47G helicopters, which were also used for aerial spraying in the rice district near Wageningen and even beyond the border, in Guyana. Various scheduled services were tried out to several places in Surinam. Also various types of aircraft were tried out. But after years of experience with the DHC Twin Otters, being STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) aircraft, these were decided to be the most appropriate.
SLM’s international activities started in 1964 when a pool agreement made between KLM, ALM and SLM to jointly operate the route between Paramaribo and Curacao, with stops at Georgetown (Guyana) and Port of Spain (Trinidad). After ALM became an independent airline, KLM withdrew from the pool and ALM and SLM jointly continued the operation. SLM’s activities were originally restricted to providing cabin personnel and managing the marketing activities in the Guyanas. Later on, SLM crews piloted various flights. Nowadays, SLM and ALM jointly operate the routes to Curacao and Miami. On the eve of Surinam’s independence in 1975, the transatlantic route was successfully negotiated for SLM. And on November 2nd, 1975 the proud free bird of Surinam Airways roared into the sky, using a leased KLM DC-8/63 in Surinam Airways bright colors and completely manned by SLM crew Surinam proved itself able to stand on its own feet in the aviation field.
As a result of the extension of facilities, scheduled cargo services could be introduced between Curacao, Manaus, Miami, Panama and Paramaribo. During the 90’s Surinam Airways further expanded its routes.