Kolkata airport has a distinguished place in the history of aviation, traditionally serving as a strategic stopover on the air route from Europe to Indochina and Australia. Many pioneering flights passed through the airport, including that of Amelia Earhart in 1937. In 1924, KLM began scheduled stops at Kolkata, as part of their Amsterdam to Batavia (Jakarta) flight. The same year, a Royal Air Force aircraft landed in Kolkata as part of the first round-the-world expedition by any air force.
Sir Stanley Jackson, Governor of Bengal, opened the Bengal Flying Club at Kolkata aerodrome in February 1929. In 1930, the airfield was made fit for use throughout the year, and other airlines began to utilise the airport. Air Orient began scheduled stops as part of a Paris to Saigon route, and Imperial Airways began flights from London to Australia via Kolkata in 1933. This began a trend that drew many airlines to Kolkata airport.
Kolkata played an important role in the Second World War. In 1942, the United States Army Air Force 7th Bombardment Group flew B-24 Liberator bombers from the airport on combat missions over Burma. The airfield was also used as a cargo aerial port throughout the war for supplies and equipment by Air Transport Command, as well as being a communication centre for the Tenth Air Force.
Passenger services grew after the Second World War. Kolkata became a destination for the world’s first jet-powered passenger aircraft, the de Havilland Comet, on a British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) route to London. Furthermore, in 1964 Indian Airlines introduced the first Indian domestic jet service, using Caravelle jets on the Calcutta - Delhi route