When was the first global airmail experimentally operated? When did airmail become a successful international service?
The first INTERNATIONAL AIRMAIL SERVICE (experimental) was operated by Italian military aircraft between Brindisi, Italy and Valona, Albania, May-June 1917. The first regular international airmail service was the Austrian civil airmail inaugurated under the direction of A.R. von Marwil, a former fighter pilot, on 11 March 1918. Mail was carried by Hansa-Brandenburg C.I. transports from Vienna to Lvov (then Lemberg) and Proskurov, via Cracow, with a branch service from Proskurov, via Cracow, with a branch service from Proskurov to Odessa. From 4 July 1918 the route was extended to Budapest. The service ended with the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in November 1918.
The first regular civil airmail was inaugurated by Air Transport & Travel between Hounslow and Paris on 10 November 1919. The mail was surcharged at the rate of 2 s 6 d an ounce, of which 2 s went to the airline. These high rates tended to discourage potential users, and during the early months of the service an average of only 45 letters a day were carried.
Trans-Atlantic airmail was successfully flown by Capt. John Alcock arid Lt Whitten-Brown in a Vickers Vimy from St John’s Newfoundland to Clifden, Ireland on 14 June 1919. Earlier the same year an attempt by Harry Hawker and Cdr Mackenzie-Grieve had ended when they were forced to ditch in the sea, abandoning the mail when they were rescued. Several days later a passing ship succeeded in extracting it from the fuselage of the still-drifting aircraft, and the sea-stained letters marked ‘First Transatlantic Air Post’ were ultimately delivered to their destinations.
The first regular transatlantic airmail was inaugurated by Deutsche Lufthansa between Berlin and Buenos Aires, via Stuttgart, Seville, Bathurst and Natal, Brazil on 3 February 1934. Initially the service was run every 14 days; from May 1935 weekly. Delivery time was four days.
The first Regular North Atlantic Airmail service was inaugurated by Pan American Airways between New York and Lisbon/Marseilles on 20 May 1939. Hying time for the Boeing 314 flying-boats was 29 hr.