In 1963, a Royal Decree of His Majesty King Hussein established Jordan’s national carrier, Alia – as Royal Jordanian used to be named. The Lebanese capital Beirut was the first Royal Jordanian destination, and Cairo and Kuwait were the destinations added by the end of the year. Alia started operations with two aircraft, a Handley Page Dart Herald and a DC-7. Today, the fleet counts 23 modern aircraft flying to 50 cities spread over four continents.
In 1965, Alia received the first of the three Caravelle 10-R aircraft it ordered and started operating a weekly flight to Rome, inaugurating its first service to Europe.
1966, the airline became a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and Paris and London were added to the route network.
In 1967, the two DC-7s were destroyed by an Israeli air raid during the Arab-Israeli war but were replaced by two F-27 aircraft.
In 1970-1971, service was initiated to Abu Dhabi, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Karachi, and Madrid. After phasing out the F-27 aircraft, Alia received two Boeing 707 aircraft. During the rest of the decade, Boeing 720/727 and Boeing 747 aircraft were added to the fleet.
In 1973, the Catering Department was established, and the Amman Airport Duty-Free Shops were opened.
In 1977, Alia inaugurated direct flights to New York. Two years later, in 1979, another destination in the United States, Houston, was added to the network. Also in 1979, Alia became a founding member of the Arab Airlines Technical Consortium.
In 1981-1982, nine new aircraft added to the fleet: five Lockheed TriStar, one Boeing 747, and three Boeing 727. Service was added to Belgrade, Bucharest, and Chicago.
In 1985, in cooperation with Malaysian Airlines, Alia inaugurated service to Kuala Lumpur. Also, Alia’s first woman pilot received the rank of Captain.
In 1986, the airline changed its name from Alia to Royal Jordanian and decided to purchase six Airbus A310 and six Airbus A320.
By the end of the ‘80, four Airbus A310 aircraft were added to the fleet. Royal Jordanian’s route network extended to include Ankara, Calcutta, Miami, Montreal, and New Delhi. The Gabriel Automated Ticket System (GATS) was introduced in all Royal Jordanian offices worldwide.
In 1996, RJ opened the City Terminal in Amman, and Royal Wings, a subsidiary regional airline of RJ, began operations between Amman and Aqaba with a De Havilland Dash 8-300 aircraft.
In 1998, Royal Jordanian replaced the First and Business Classes with Crown Class on routes to Europe, the Far East, North America, and the Indian Sub-Continent. It also introduced the Personal Video service for Crown Class passengers. The five TriStar aircraft were phased out and replaced by two Airbus A310 and two Airbus A320.
In 1999, the government approved the privatization of Royal Jordanian. The next year, in preparation for privatization, began the separation of RJ’s supporting activities (Duty-Free Shops, Training Center, Catering Department, Engine Overhaul, and the Engineering & Maintenance Department), and the Spanish firm Aldeasa bought the duty-free shops.
In 2001, the company changed his name to Alia – The Royal Jordanian Airlines Company (Royal Jordanian) and was registered as a Jordanian public shareholding company. Also, the British firm Alpha bought 80% of Jordan Flight Catering International Company.
In 2002, Royal Jordanian introduced two modern long-haul Airbus 340 aircraft to serve the routes of New York and Bangkok and also updated its services and in-flight products in line with the introduction of the new aircraft.
In 2004, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) rewarded Royal Jordanian the IOSA certificate. Thus, RJ ranked number two among the Arab airlines and 28 amongst 270 international air carriers.
In 2006, Eastern Investment Group Holding bought 80% of JATS (Jordan Airline Training & Simulation) while RJ retained the rest of 20%. The privatization of RJ’s supporting activities was completed by selling 100% of Jordan Airmotive (JALCo) to the Jordanian Aviation Technological Academy for $11.1 million. Also, RJ introduced at Queen Alia International Airport two systems to automate and make travel smooth: common use self-service check-in (CUSS) and bar coded boarding passes (BCBP).
2007 was an eventful year for Royal Jordanian: RJ and American Airlines began codeshare cooperation; RJ officially joined oneworld, the first Arab airline to join such a global airline alliance; RJ placed orders to purchase two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and announced plans to negotiate with international leasing companies to introduce eight additional B787, starting 2010. Also, Royal Jordanian was privatized, resulting in 71% of its assets being sold, and the share-trading commenced in December.
In 2009, upon receiving the third Airbus A319, RJ launched OnAir mobile services. By introducing the fourth Airbus A319 aircraft, painted with the oneworld alliance livery, RJ concluded its short- and medium-haul fleet modernization program.
In 2010, Royal Jordanian launched a new check-in service, Online Check-in, enabling passengers to issue their boarding passes electronically from any place connected to the Internet. Royal Jordanian started implementing the Amadeus’ Altea suite of solutions, a real quantum leap in managing passenger services techniques of reservation and ticketing.
In 2011, the first Airbus A320 joined the fleet, the first of eight new Airbus A320 and A321 to replace the six operating aircraft of the same models.
In 2012, Royal Jordanian and City-Discovery.com sealed a partnership agreement to offer new travel and tourism services to Royal Jordanian passengers. Also, RJ selected Thales, a leader in In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) to install the advanced TopSeries AVANT system and TopConnect cabin communications network on the upcoming 11 new Boeing 787 aircraft.
In March 2013, Royal Jordanian transferred all its flights to the new terminal at Queen Alia International Airport.
In August 2014, the first B787 Dreamliner joined the fleet under the name of the Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II. Four other B787 Dreamliners were received by the end of the year. According to the airline’s long-haul fleet modernisation plan, the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft will replace the currently operating Airbus A340s and A330s.
In October 2014, Royal Jordanian changed its baggage policy and started using the Piece Concept, instead of the Weight Concept, on all its routes.
In January 2015, Royal Jordanian introduced the RJ mobile application allowing passengers to manage all their travel plans on the move in a simpler and more convenient way and offering features from flight booking to flight status, check-in and more.
In March 2016, Royal Jordanian announced a JOD 16 million net profit after tax for 2015, while in 2014 the airline had registered a JOD 39.6 million net loss. The growth was attributed to the implementation of the company’s 2015-2019 business plan, but also to the improvement of services and efficiency and loyalty of the staff.
In May 2017, Stefan Pichler, the ex CEO of Airberlin Group was appointed the President/CEO of Royal Jordanian. In October, Stefan Pichler presented RJ’s turnaround plan with the strategic objectives to help moving Royal Jordanian back into profitability by the end of 2017 and position the airline as the number 1 network carrier in the Levant. In this context, the airline will revise its route network and switch to a single type narrow-body fleet.
In July 2018, Royal Jordanian announced a significantly improved financial performance in the first six months of 2018. The seat load factor grew by 4.4 points compared to H1 2017, from 68.4% to 72.8%. As a result, the airline reduced its net loss for H1 2018 to JOD 12.7 million after tax from JOD 26.3 million in H1 2017.
Throughout its history, Royal Jordanian has experienced four fatal accidents. The airline’s two worst accidents involved chartered Boeing 707s. The first happened in 173 in Nigeria, and 176 people were killed. The second happened in Morocco in 1975 and all 188 persons on board were killed. The third fatal accident occurred on March 14, 1979, and 45 of the 64 persons aboard an Alia Boeing 727 were killed as a result of a windshear on landing at the Doha Airport, in Qatar. Since the name was changed to Royal Jordanian, the only fatal incident was when a hijacker was killed by the on-board security agent on July 5, 2000.