gahetNA in the National Archives

Passage

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After the Second World War, a serious shortage of passenger ships meant that emigrants sometimes had to wait months before they could leave. In 1948, the first ships to carry emigrants to their new countries were the Volendam and the Sibajak. As capacity was very limited, in the early 1950s, the Dutch government arranged for troop transports to be converted into passenger ships that could accommodate 800 emigrants. Conditions on board could hardly be called excellent and bore no resemblance whatsoever to the luxury liners which carried emigrants from the mid-1950s onwards.

Drawing of the ship Oranje
Drawing of the ship Oranje, later renamed Angelina Lauro

Although regular maritime connections between the Netherlands and Australia were available until 1968, emigrants increasingly chose to travel by air, which was faster and more comfortable. Regular flight connections between the two countries had been established in 1938 and were resumed after the war in December 1951. In 1952, KLM carried more than 4,000 people to Australia, almost 20% of the total number of emigrants to the continent. Flying time was a mere 74 hours rather than a month or more by sea.

After KLM introduced its jet service to Australia in 1961, the trip could be made in 34 hours, 28 of which were flying time. An extended twice-weekly service from Sydney to Brisbane began in 1972. From 1967, Qantas, Australia’s largest airline, offered a weekly service to Amsterdam. The advent of the Boeing 747 in 1973 increased capacity and comfort and reduced travel time to 29 hours.

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