66 Years Of Romania’s TAROM – A History Of The Airline

Compania Națională de Transporturi Aeriene Române, more commonly known as TAROM, turned 66 years old yesterday. The flag carrier of Romania is the largest airline in the country when it comes to international destinations, which it has achieved thanks to its determination and groundbreaking feats over the decades. Let’s take a look at some of the landmark moments of the airline.

TAROM has been flying across the globe for over six decades. Photo: Getty Images

The incubation years

The story of TAROM predates the airline’s establishment under its current name. Its roots can be traced back to 1920 when the French-Romanian Company for Air Navigation was launched. Briefly known as CFRNA, this was the first carrier of Romania.

Seat Maestro shares that CFRNA became Serviciul National de Navigatie Aeriana (The National Air Navigation Service), also known as SNNA, in 1928. However, it soon changed its title once again to Liniile Aeriene Române Exploatate de Stat (Romanian Air Line Exploited by the State), shortened to LARES.

There were further transitions in the following decade as the outfit merged with its rival, Societatea Anonima Româna de Transporturi Aeriene (Romanian Air Transport Liability Company). After the Second World War, Transporturi Aeriene Româno-Sovietice (Romanian-Soviet Air Transport) was formed as a jointly-owned Romanian-Soviet Union business.

A national institution

On September 18th, 1954, TAROM was officially established when the Romanian government purchased the Soviet share of the carrier. It didn’t take long for the airline to expand as after a few years. It was already flying to most countries across Europe.

There were further expansions in the following decades. According to the airline’s official website, its first flight across the Atlantic Ocean was in 1966. After that, for the first time, TAROM flew all the way to Sydney in 1974. It would stop off at Calcutta along the way. Regular service also began to New York and Beijing during this year.

One of the most famous feats of TAROM occurred in 1969. The carrier deployed is Ilyushin IL-18 on a milestone trip. It flew around the world in 80 hours, across a distance of 47,000 kilometers (29200 miles).

The carrier flew on a route of Baneasa – Karachi – New Delhi – Bangkok – Rangoon – Hong Kong – Tokyo – Nagoya – Tokyo – Wake Island – Honolulu – Los Angeles – Mexico City – Acapulco – New York – Las Palmas – Rome – Istanbul – Baneasa.

The plane took off from Bucharest’s Ariel Vlaicu and landed back over two and a half months later. During this era, the airline and the airport were working together under one umbrella.

A TAROM Il-18 taking to the skies in 1980. Photo: Eduard Marmet via Wikimedia Commons

Continued growth

These maneuvers helped the airline begin the 1980s with strong positioning in the market. In 1980, the company’s capacity doubled compared with five years prior. Moreover, the number was increased tenfold compared with its launch year.

At the start of the decade, TAROM was flying to 15 destinations across Romania. However, the notable successes were still connected to overseas accomplishments. For instance, in 1981, the carrier conducted its first-ever non-stop flight over 10,000 km. This service was on a route between Bucharest and Bangkok.

Interestingly, the firm was the only carrier in the Soviet bloc to fly to Tel Aviv during the 1970s and 1980s. For most of the middle of the 20th century, the company was mostly flying with planes made in the Soviet Union. However, there were exceptions. In 1968, it took on a BAC One Eleven. It also started to fly Boeing 707s on long-distance routes six years later. Additionally, in 1978, the United Kingdom built a BAC One Eleven in Romania as ROMBAC 1-11.

The carrier continued to grow internationally through to the 1990s. During this time, it began flying to destinations such as Chicago, Milan, Chisinau, Delhi, Verona, Bologna, Thessaloniki, Munich, and Stuttgart.

BAC 1-11 Series 424
A TAROM BAC 1-11 aircraft at London’s Heathrow Airport in 1971. Photo: RuthAS via Wikimedia Commons

A tragic event

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for TAROM during this decade. On March 31st, 1995, an Airbus A310 of the airline was operating flight RO371 between Bucharest and Brussels. However, only two minutes after taking off, it entered a nose-down dive and crashed.

According to Aviation24.be, it was revealed that the faulty auto-throttle reduced the left engine to idle during its climb. Meanwhile, the captain became incapacitated, leaving the first officer overwhelmed and unable to effectively take over. 49 passengers and 11 crew members were traveling when the incident happened. Sadly, there were fatalities to all 60 people on board the aircraft.

TAROM Airbus A310
A TAROM Airbus A310. Photo: Aldo Bidini via Wikimedia Commons

Recent operations

At the turn of the century, TAROM maintained its global presence. Notably, on June 25th, 2010, the company became a member of SkyTeam. This group is one of the world’s three major airline alliances.

The carrier highlights that SkyTeam provides passengers from member airlines access to an extensive global network with more destinations, additional frequencies, and further connections. Therefore, the operator reaffirmed its position as an international player with this move.

Today, TAROM flies with a streamlined yet diverse fleet of aircraft. According to Planespotters.net, it holds 13 ATR 42/72s, six Airbus A318s, and 12 Boeing 737s. Currently, the airline focuses on flying shorter distances. However, that is not to say that the carrier is shying away from foreign markets.

According to Tarom’s website, destinations across Europe include the following:

  • Budapest
  • London
  • Thessaloniki
  • Athens
  • Paris
  • Munich
  • Brussels
  • Amsterdam
  • Vienna
  • Sofia

Additional destinations in its network include the following:

  • Cairo
  • Beirut
  • Tel Aviv
  • Amman
  • Istanbul

The carrier also flies regularly domestically, including the following hubs:

  • Baia Mare
  • Satu Mare
  • Timisoara
  • Suceava
  • Iasi
  • Cluj-Napoca
  • Oradea
tarom a318
The airline has been concentrating on routes across Europe and North Africa in recent years. Photo: Getty Images

Still going

Altogether, it has been a long and eventful journey for TAROM over the years, with several ups and downs along the way. As the aviation industry faces significant challenges across the globe, the airline will be looking to use its experience to come out stronger.

Simple Flying reached out to TAROM for comment on its 66 years of service. We will update the article with any further announcements.

What are your thoughts about TAROM’s history? Have you flown with the carrier over the years? Let us know what you think of the airline in the comment section.