TAROM (pronounced "ta-rom", legally Compania Na?ional? de Transporturi Aeriene Române TAROM S.A.), is the flag carrier and oldest currently operating airline of Romania, based in Otopeni near Bucharest. Its headquarters and its main hub are at Henri Coand? International Airport. It is currently the first and largest airline operating in Romania based on international destinations, international flights and the third-largest measured by fleet size and passengers carried.
The brand name is an acronym for Romanian: Transporturile Aeriene Române (Romanian Air Transport). Over ninety-seven percent (97.22%) of TAROM is owned by the Romanian Government (Ministry of Transport). The airline transported almost 2.75 million passengers in 2018, with an average load factor of 74%. The airline joined SkyTeam on 25 June 2010.
The history of Romanian National Air Transport Company can be traced back from 1920, when CFRNA - (French-Romanian Company for Air Navigation) was founded. On 13 April 1920, the company registers its headquarters at 194 Rue Rivoli, in Paris. A decree issued on 26 April 1920 establishes Direc?iunea Avia?iei (The Directorate of Aviation), in the subordination of the Ministry of Communications. In the same year, the Kingdom of Romania offered CFRNA exploitation rights. The country offered the airline two aerodromes: one in Arad, and another one in Bucharest-B?neasa. The airline used French-built Potez 15 aircraft for its passenger/mail service between Paris and Bucharest via several cities in Central Europe. In 1925, the city of Gala?i became the first destination in Romania served by regular flights followed, from 24 June 1926, by an extended service to Ia?i and Chi?in?u. Ten de Havilland DH.9 and five Ansaldo A.300, in addition to the Potez aircraft, operated the service.
In 1928 the airline changed its name to SNNA (Serviciul Na?ional de Naviga?ie Aerian?, The National Air Navigation Service). On the 9th of July of 1930, the company adopted the name LARES (Liniile Aeriene Române Exploatate de Stat, Romanian State-Operated Air Lines) while the 20th of July of 1937 saw the merger of LARES with its competitor, SARTA (Societatea Anonim? Român? de Transporturi Aeriene).
Post-World War II
Immediately After World War II, in 1945, when the Soviet Union had extended its influence across Eastern Europe, a new reorganization replaced LARES with TARS (Transporturi Aeriene Româno-Sovietice), jointly owned by the governments of Romania and the Soviet Union. Domestic operations were started from Bucharest (B?neasa Airport) on 1 February 1946, when TARS took over all air services and aircraft from LARES.
Over the following decade, the company's Soviet share was purchased by the Romanian government and, on 18 September 1954, the airline adopted the name of TAROM (Transporturi Aeriene Române, Romanian Air Transport). By 1960, TAROM was flying to a dozen cities across Europe. 1966 saw the operation of its first transatlantic flight. On 14 May 1974, it launched a regular service to New York City (John F. Kennedy International Airport).
Being part of the regional group of airlines within Eastern Bloc states meant that for much of its history TAROM has operated Soviet-designed aircraft. These included Lisunov Li-2s, Ilyushin Il-14s, Ilyushin Il-18 long-range turboprops, Ilyushin Il-62 long-range jet airliners, Antonov An-24 regional turboprops, and Tupolev Tu-154 medium-range tri-jets. As was the case with several other nations, the Il-62 was the first long-range jet airliner to be put into operation by Romania, in 1973. Five examples (three Il-62s and two later version Il-62Ms) were owned by TAROM, which also leased the aircraft to other operators.
An exception to Soviet-built aircraft was made in 1968, when TAROM bought six BAC One-Eleven 400s for European and Middle East destinations, and in 1974 when it acquired Boeing 707 aircraft to share its long-haul operations with the Il-62. Plans were made to acquire Vickers VC10 aircraft as well, but in the end, the Soviets did not allow it, and made them buy the Il-62 instead. With 59 aircraft in operation, in the late '70s, TAROM had the largest fleet in the Eastern Bloc, after Aeroflot.
In 1978, a contract was signed with the UK enabling Rombac to manufacture the BAC One Eleven at Romaero, near Bucharest. Meanwhile, the 707 and Il-62 long-range aircraft were operating New York (via Amsterdam, later London and finally Vienna), Abu-Dhabi-Bangkok-Singapore, and Karachi-Beijing. TAROM was the only Eastern Bloc airline to operate flights to Tel Aviv, Israel.
After the collapse of the communist regime in 1989, the airline, operating a fleet of 65 aircraft of six basic types, was able to acquire more Western-built jets. In 1992, TAROM bought 3 Airbus A310 planes, nicknamed: "Transilvania" (YR-LCA), "Moldova" (YR-LCB) and "Muntenia" (YR-LCC). By 1993, TAROM had introduced long-haul flights to Montreal and Bangkok using Ilyushin Il-62 and Airbus A310 aircraft. The YR-LCC Airbus A310 joined TAROM's fleet on 10 April 1994, to then crash near Balote?ti on the 31st of March 1995.
During the 1990s, TAROM replaced its long-haul fleet of Boeing 707s and IL-62s with Airbus A310s (the last Il-62 being sold in 1999).
TAROM is recovering from a difficult period that began in the 1990s when losses of up to $68 million per year were registered, caused by unprofitable routes. At the beginning of the new millennium, the airline initiated a programme that was aimed at restoring profitability. This was achieved by terminating loss-making intercontinental services. In 2001, the airline cancelled its non-profitable long-haul services to Bangkok and Montreal and also terminated services to its remaining intercontinental destinations of Chicago in 2002, and Beijing and New York City in 2003. TAROM terminated loss-making domestic services to Craiova, Tulcea, Caransebe?, and Constan?a, and focused its activity on service to key destinations in Europe and the Middle East. TAROM has decided to focus its operations on Bucharest (Henri Coand? International Airport) (OTP) and Cluj-Napoca International Airport (CLJ), and initiated direct international flights from Sibiu International Airport. 2004 was the first profitable year of the last decade. By 2005, TAROM tried selling its A310 fleet three times, which was being preserved since 2003.
From 2003 till 2007, the airline spent EUR1 million per year to preserve "Moldova" and "Transilvania". In 2007, TAROM modernized its two Airbus A310 planes at the Airbus plant in Bordeaux. After being reconditioned, the pair was used in medium-haul flights, which weren't successful.
The airline had a frequent-flyer programme "Smart Miles", which was turned into Flying Blue on 5 June 2010. Codeshare agreements with foreign partner airlines are in place for several international routes. On 25 June 2010, TAROM joined SkyTeam as the alliance's thirteenth member.
Starting with November 2012, in accordance with the Romanian state-company legislation, TAROM was led by a private manager, the Belgian Christian Heinzmann occupying the positions of CEO and Accountable Manager until March 2016. During Heinzmann's leadership, the company reduced its financial losses by more than 75%, grew its yearly passenger number to a record 2.4 million and stabilised its load-factor around 70%. However, broad reforms like the fleet renewal and harmonisation, as well as the establishment of profit centers such as the TAROM Maintenance and TAROM Charter services, were not accomplished due to a constant lack of a decision from the company's board of administrators.
On 12 September and 29 October 2016, TAROM retired their remaining two Airbus A310-300s after final flights from Madrid to Bucharest. The A310s will be replaced with new smaller aircraft. In May 2017, TAROM received its first of two leased Boeing 737-800s. Another two ex-Malaysian Airlines 737-800 were added to the fleet in 2018 and a contract for five Boeing 737 MAX 8 was signed with deliveries stated to begin in 2023. On 27 December 2019, the Ministry of Transport announced that 9 new ATR 72-600 leased from Nordic Aviation Capital for a 10 year-period would replace the existent ATR 42-500 and 72-500, manufactured in 1999-2000, respectively 2009. TAROM received the first four aircraft in February 2020, with the first one, registered with code YR-ATJ, landing in Bucharest on 18 February 2020, at 2:50 PM EET.
TAROM is a state-owned company, with shareholding structure as follows:
The Romanian Government (held through the Ministry of Transport)
The TAROM logo, representing a swallow in flight, has been used on all TAROM aircraft since 1954. The 1970s livery had the logo on the tail painted in red, with a red cheatline. The livery introduced in the early 1990s (on the Airbus A310 aircraft) is an overall-white scheme with the titles and the tailfin painted in dark blue. The current colour scheme (introduced in 2006 on the A318) is a slightly modified version of the previous one, with an oversized logo on the tailfin, and the engine pods also painted in dark blue.
All aircraft in the TAROM fleet receive a "name" which is a Romanian toponym. For instance, the names of the ATR aircraft in the fleet are related to the rivers of Romania, the Boeing aircraft bear names of Romanian cities, the Airbus long-haul aircraft bear Romanian historical province names, while the Airbus A318s bear names of Romanian aviation pioneers.
In 2009, marking the airline's 55th anniversary, a Boeing 737-700 (YR-BGG "Craiova") was painted in a retro jet colour scheme, representing airline's first livery used in the 1950s on Lisunov Li-2 aircraft.
TAROM Technical Division
The TAROM Technical Division provides aircraft maintenance services for the entire fleet of the company and the fleet of other national and international companies. The objective of TAROM Technical Department is to be the best and the most efficient, in terms of costs, maintenance service provider for Boeing 737, ATR 42 and ATR 72 aircraft in Central and Eastern Europe. The services provided by the TAROM Technical Department include unscheduled maintenance works, scheduled maintenance works and repair works for spare parts.
The major maintenance activity is performed in the hangar of the technical department, built between 1969 and 1972, with an area of 6,000 m2 and restored in 2000 to fully comply with EASA (European Safety Aviation Agency) and FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) standards. The hangar is equipped to perform all types of inspections for TAROM fleet, and the personnel is qualified and licensed for all types of aircraft in the fleet. Maintenance activities for 3 to 6 aircraft, depending on their size, may be carried out simultaneously in the hangar. The hangar is equipped with full MERO system for B737 docking.
The most important maintenance capacities of the TAROM Technical Department include full maintenance services for Boeing 737 and ATR42/72 aircraft, inspection capacity type C for Airbus A310 and A318 aircraft, total painting, interior cleaning, modifications.
The technical department also provides safe storage facilities for spare parts and materials necessary for maintenance activity, dedicated spaces for chemicals, for special tools and testing equipment, and quarantine spaces. The TAROM Technical Department also provides conveyance services (packaging, preparation of documents, customs) and acceptance services (customs, disassembly, and reception inspection) for various substances and equipment.
The airline directly operates 50 destinations including charter and seasonal services in 22 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa including 8 domestic destinations.
The airline's flights to the USA ceased in 2003 and are now operated under a codeshare agreement with Air France via Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport.
In 2006, TAROM was scheduled to join SkyTeam as an associate member (sponsored by Alitalia), but the entry into the alliance was postponed until 2008. On 7 May that year, SkyTeam signed a SkyTeam Alliance Associate Adherence Agreement (SAAAA) with TAROM. On 22 June 2010, SkyTeam announced that it had renewed its membership program, thereby making TAROM a future full member of the alliance. On 25 June 2010, TAROM became a full member of SkyTeam.
TAROM had been planning to lease three widebody aircraft to resume long-haul operations to China and the United States after the withdrawal of its Airbus A310s. The Request For Proposals (RFP) to leasing firms ended on 31 August 2017; however, as of May 2020 no decision has been made public.
On 24 February 1962 an Ilyushin Il-18V, registration YR-IMB, operating on an international scheduled flight from Bucharest Otopeni Airport (OTP) to Tel Aviv via Nicosia lost power on all four engines and made a belly landing on a grassy field in Cyprus. While cruising at 23,000 feet over the Mediterranean Sea and 43 miles offshore, engine number 3 lost power, followed shortly by number 1 and 2. Then, at 10,000 feet and 27 miles offshore, engine 4 also quit. All 100 occupants survived. The aircraft was transported to Moscow for repairs, but it never re-entered service.
On 9 October 1964, an Ilyushin Il-14, registration YR-ILB, operating a domestic scheduled flight from Timi?oara to Bucharest broke apart in mid-air and crashed 2 km south of Cugir, killing all 31 on board. The aircraft had flown into a strong downdraft; the pilot attempted to maintain altitude, but this caused the fuselage to overstress and break apart.
On 4 February 1970, TAROM Flight 35, an Antonov An-24, registration YR-AMT, operating a domestic scheduled flight from Bucharest to Oradea struck the side of a mountain in the Vl?deasa mountain group, killing 20 of 21 on board. The aircraft began descending in poor visibility until it struck treetops on a mountainside, after which it struck the slope of a second mountain. The aircraft was leased from the Romanian government.
On 29 December 1974, an Antonov An-24, registration YR-AMD, operating on a domestic scheduled flight from Bucharest to Sibiu crashed into the side of the Lotrului mountains (22 km south of Sibiu) at an altitude of 1,700 m, killing all 28 passengers and 5 crew members. The crew's incorrect approach procedure execution, which led to the aircraft drifting south off course by 20 km, while the wind was increasing turbulence was present.
On 7 August 1980, a Tupolev Tu-154B-1 registered YR-TPH, operating on an international scheduled flight from Bucharest Otopeni Airport to Nouadhibou Airport, Mauritania ditched in the water 300 m short of the runway at Nouadhibou Airport. The crew could not see the runway while descending through the 90 m decision height. A missed approach procedure was initiated when the pilot felt contact with what he thought was ground but was actually water. All of the 152 passengers and 16 crew members survived the impact, but a passenger suffered a heart attack and died before he could be rescued. Most of the passengers were sailors who were going to replace the crew of two Romanian ships located on the Mauritanian coast. Many passengers swam to the land, while sharks were kept away by the vibrations of an engine which continued to function for a few hours after the crash.
On 5 September 1986, an Antonov An-24 registered YR-AMF operating on a domestic scheduled flight from Bucharest B?neasa Airport touched down nose wheel-first while landing at Cluj Airport. A fire erupted, killing three crew members who were trapped in the cockpit. The other two crew members and all fifty passengers survived.
On 13 August 1991, TAROM Flight 785A, an Ilyushin Il-18, flying from Otopeni to Timi?oara Airport crashed in the Retezat Mountains during a repositioning flight. The flight crew, and an aircraft maintenance crew, all consisting of 9 people, died instantly. Whilst the official cause of the crash was attributed to pilot error (the pilots did not use radar instruments and only assumed their positions, thus getting lost), the secrecy regarding the crash sparked a few conspiracy theories, which include sabotage, accidental shootdown from a nearby surface-to-air missiles unit (theory later dismissed by the MApN), and UFOs that tricked the pilots into believing they had arrived at their destination, linked to the sightings of unusual lights on 4 August 1991.
On 24 September 1994, TAROM Flight 381, an Airbus A310 registered YR-LCA flying from Bucharest to Paris Orly, went into a sudden and uncommanded nose-up position and stalled. The crew attempted to countermand the aircraft's flight control system but were unable to get the nose down while remaining on course. Witnesses saw the aircraft climb with an extreme nose-up attitude, then bank sharply left, then right, then fall into a steep dive. Only when the dive produced additional speed was the crew able to recover steady flight. An investigation found that an overshoot of flap placard speed during the approach, incorrectly commanded by the captain, caused a mode transition to flight level change. The auto-throttles increased power and trim went full nose-up as a result. The crew's attempt at commanding the nose-down elevator could not counteract the effect of stabilizer nose-up trim, and the resulting dive brought the aircraft from a height of 4,100 ft at the time of the stall to 800 ft when the crew was able to recover command. The aircraft landed safely after a second approach. There were 186 people on board.
On 31 March 1995, a TAROM Airbus A310 operating as Flight 371 crashed near Balote?ti due to a fault in the throttles and lack of recovery from the flight crew. All 49 passengers and 11 crew members were killed.
On 30 December 2007, a TAROM Boeing 737-300 (YR-BGC "Constan?a"), flying Flight 3107 hit a car on the runway of Bucharest Henri Coand? International Airport while taking off for Sharm-el-Sheikh. The aircraft stopped beside the runway and was severely damaged. None of the passengers were injured. Because of fog, neither the tower nor the pilots saw the car belonging to staff who were repairing a runway beacon.
On 9 July 2019, a TAROM ATR 42-500 (YR-ATF), flying Flight 638, suffered an explosion at its landing gear tires on BucharestHenri Coand? International Airport while landing from Satu Mare. None of the passengers were injured. An internal safety investigation was conducted, with a report being published on 11 September 2019. The conclusion of TAROM's report is that the explosion was caused by the parking brake, which was on at the landing moment, due to a pilot error, that caused the tires to screech on the landing strip, thus blowing apart one by one.
Balotescu, Nicolae; Burlacu, Dumitru; Cr?ciun, Dumitru N.; D?sc?lescu, Jean; Dediu, Dumitru; Gheorghiu, Constantin; Ionescu, Corneliu; Mocanu, Vasile; Nicolau, Constantin; Popescu-Rosetti, Ion; Prunariu, Dumitru; Tudose, Stelian; Ucrain, Constantin; Z?rnescu, Gheorghe (1984). Istoria Avia?iei Române [The History of Romanian Aviation] (in Romanian). Bucharest: Editura ?tiin?ific? ?i Pedagogic?.