TAAG Angola Airlines, the flag carrier of Angola based in Luanda, was originally set up by the government, at the request of the president of Portugal Oscar Carmona, as DTA – Divisão dos Transportes Aéreos de Angola in 1938.
In July 1940, operations began with three De Havilland Dragon Rapide biplanes. The first routes included two main lines: Luanda – Pointe Noire and Luanda–Benguela–Lobito that was later extended to Moçâmedes. During World War II, flights were intermittently discontinued, but the airline resumed operations by the end of the war.
In 1948, the first Douglas DC-3 aircraft entered into operation.
In 1951, the airline joined the International Air Transport Association.
In 1961, DTA became the third African airline to order the Fokker F-27, with two aircraft acquired. In 1962, when the Fokker F-27s entered service, Windhoek was added to the route network.
In October 1973, the airline was renamed TAAG – Transportes Aéreos de Angola, reorganised and reconstituted as a joint-stock company. The company’s main shareholders at the time were the Angolan government with 51% and TAP Air Portugal with 29%.
In 1974, four Boeing 737-200s were ordered, and a new livery including the Palança Negra was unveiled.
In 1975, after the proclamation of the national independence, the airline became Angola’s flag carrier, and the first Angolan managers were nominated. Also, negotiations were initiated with TAP for the participation of TAAG on flights Luanda-Lisbon. The first flights Luanda – Lisbon began to be operated with TAP aircraft, but with flight code DT and TAAG cabin crew.
In 1976, the jet era began with the arrival of the first Boeing 737. By 1980, the airline had a fleet of three Boeing 707-320, three Boeing 737-200, six Fokker F27, three L-100, and four Yakovlev Yak-40 to serve a number of domestic destinations and Brazzaville, Lagos, Maputo, São Tome, Lisbon, Moscow, Paris, and Rome.
In June 1985, TAAG Angola Airlines started flights to Brazil, with destination Rio de Janeiro.
In 1991, two subsidiaries were created: Angola Air Charter, focusing on charters and cargo transportation, and SAL – Sociedade de Aviação Ligeira, focusing on aero-taxi services and specialized flights (crop dusting, fire fighting, etc.).
In 1991, two associated companies were created: Angola Air Charter, focusing on charters and cargo transportation, and Sociedade de Aviação Ligeira – SAL, focusing on aero-taxi services and specialized flights (crop dusting, fire fighting, etc.).
In 1997, TAAG Angola Airlines acquired its first Boeing 747 from Singapore Airlines.
In November 2006, TAAG received five new airplanes: three Boeing 737-700NG and two Boeing 777-200E. One of the Boeing 777-200ER broke a world record in the ferry flight from Seattle to Luanda when it flew for 16 hours and 47 minutes without refueling. Also, a manufacturer’s record was broken, as this was the first time Boeing delivered five new aircraft at once.
In July 2007, because of safety concerns, TAAG aircraft were banned by the European Union from entering into European airspace. At the same time, just before TAAG was about to start services to London-Gatwick, the United Kingdom banned the airline from flying into its territory; in retaliation, British Airways was banned from landing in Angola.
In November 2008, the TAAG board was entirely replaced, and a new board was appointed. The objective was to turnaround the carrier after the company lost about US$70 million in 14 months and, in particular, to get it removed from the EU blacklist. Also, TAAG launched a new route to Beijing.
In May 2009, TAAG is awarded the IOSA certification after passing IATA inspections.
In July 2009, TAAG received permission to fly to Europe under restricted conditions; it was allowed to fly only into Portugal and only with its three Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. In late 2009, the permission was extended to its four Boeing 737-700 aircraft. On August 1, 2009, after nearly two years of being banned from EU airspace, TAAG’s first flight departed from Luanda to Lisbon.
In March 2010, EU restrictions on TAAG operations were relented again when it was announced that the airline could fly their Boeing 777-200ER and 737-700 aircraft to all European airports.
In January 2011, after a series of incidents involving the Boeing 777-200ER fleet, there were concerns over inadequate maintenance once again. However, after an IATA inspection in Luanda, it was determined that TAAG Angola Airlines was still complying with international safety requirements.
In April 2012, the ban was partially lifted, but some aircraft were still prevented from flying into the European airspace.
In October 2014, TAAG Angola Airlines was serving 31 destinations, including 13 domestic, 11 in Africa, 3 in Latin America, 2 in Europe, and 3 in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.
As of August 2015, TAAG operates an all-Boeing fleet, the active fleet comprising the following aircraft: three 777-300ER, three 777-300ER, five 737-700 and three 737-200.
In September 2015, Emirates took over management of TAAG Angola Airlines when four executive directors appointed by Emirates airlines to serve on the board of TAAG Angola Airlines take office, under the terms of an agreement signed in 2014 in Dubai between Emirates and the government of Angola. Under the agreement, Emirates appointed the Chairman of the Board of Directors and three executive directors, of a total of nine members, but will not place equity. Day-to-day management is carried out by an Executive Committee composed of the executive directors appointed by Emirates for the operational, commercial, financial and administrative departments.
In 2016, the first full year of operation under the Emirates management, annual losses were reduced from $175m to $5m.
In 2017, the management agreement between Emirates and the government of Angola was unilaterally terminated by Emirates after encountering difficulties in expatriating revenues from Angola.
In January 2018, TAAG Angola Airlines and South African Airways entered into a code-sharing agreement. TAAG will be able to offer flights with the DT code on flights operated by SAA between Johannesburg and Luanda, Harare, and Lusaka, and Johannesburg and Hong Kong in the near future.
In September 2018, TAAG Angola became a public limited company by presidential decree. The Angolan state will retain at least 51% of the capital stock, but TAAG Angola Airlines will be partially privatized starting with the Angolan government allowing the sale of up to 10% of TAAG to other airlines.
There were several accidents and incidents involving TAAG aircraft, six of them involving fatalities. In the early 1980s, three TAAG aircraft were shot down, killing all people on board. The last fatal accident occurred in 2007 when a Boeing 737-200 crashed in Northern Angola, killing five of the 78 people on board.