Royal Brunei Airlines was established on November 18, 1974, as an independent corporation wholly owned by the government of Brunei. Royal Brunei Airlines is the national flag carrier airline of the Brunei Darussalam, and its hub is Brunei International Airport.
On May 14, 1975, with an initial fleet of two Boeing 737-200s, Royal Brunei Airlines started flights to Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia – Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.
The following years, Royal Brunei Airlines expanded its network with new routes to Manila.in 1976 and Bangkok in 1977.
In the first half of the 1980s, following the purchase of a third B737-200 aircraft in 1980, Royal Brunei Airlines began new services to Kuala Lumpur in 1981, Darwin in 1983, and Jakarta in 1984.
In 1986, three new extended-range B757-200 aircraft were added to the fleet. Flights to Taipei started the same year, and to Dubai in 1988.
In 1990, Royal Brunei Airlines began flying to Europe, first to Frankfurt via Bangkok and Dubai, and, after the delivery of its first B767-300ER aircraft, to London Gatwick Airport via Singapore and Dubai. The following year, the route to London was changed to fly twice a week to Heathrow Airport, and services to Perth and Jeddah via Dubai were inaugurated.
The following years, Royal Brunei Airlines continued to expand and reconfigure its network. In March 1993, Abu Dhabi was added to the route network, and flights to Frankfurt and Jeddah were rerouted through Abu Dhabi instead of Dubai. The airline also started services to Bali, Zurich, Bahrain, Beijing, and Cairo in 1993, and Brisbane, Osaka, Balikpapan, and Kolkata in 1994. Services to Cairo and Kolkata were suspended in 1995, the route to Zurich in 1996, and the routes to Beijing and Osaka in 1998. Short-haul services connecting Brunei to Miri, Labuan, and Mulu started in 1994 and to Bintulu in 1996.
In 1997, short-haul services were terminated after the crash of a Dornier 228, owned by Royal Brunei Airlines, but operated and maintained by Hornbill Airways, a Malaysian regional carrier. Also, Royal Brunei Airlines launched twice-weekly services to Surabaya, the fourth Indonesian destination.
In 2000, Kuwait, served via Singapore, Kolkata and Dubai, was added to the network, but suspended a year later. Services also began to Shanghai Pudong International Airport in 2001.
In 2003, Peter Foster, appointed CEO in September 2002, began a major restructuring after years of unprofitable operation. The plan for Royal Brunei Airlines fleet was to grow from 9 to 24 aircraft in ten years, from 2003 to 2013. The deliveries of the new Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft marked the start of the re-equipping exercise.
In October 2003, Auckland, the first destination in New Zealand, was added to the network as an extension of the Brunei-Brisbane flights. At the end of the year, Royal Brunei and Royal Tongan Airlines entered into a controversial agreement. Under the agreement, Royal Tongan wet-leased a B757. In return, Royal Brunei was given the opportunity to open up US markets via Tonga. However, Royal Tongan went into bankruptcy before US routes could be planned.
In 2004, SkyDreamer seats were introduced in Business Class on four Boeing 767. Business Class was renamed Sky Executive Class but subsequently returned to Business Class, due to the poor response from the public. In Economy Class, each seat was fitted with an 8.4 inch TV. To compete with low-cost carriers in the region, such as AirAsia, Royal Brunei Airlines also started offering cheaper economy class fares on select routes through Blue Sky Fares, a low-cost Internet booking facility.
In the second half of the 2000s, Royal Brunei Airlines continued to restructure its network: in May 2006, added Ho Chi Minh City, a destination served thrice-weekly; in 2007, suspended flights to Frankfurt am Main and reintroduced Kuching after a break of three years; in 2008, suspended services to Darwin (after serving the route for 24 years), Sharjah (as Jeddah flights are served non-stop from Brunei), Shanghai, Sydney, and Bali.
In 2010, Royal Brunei Airlines introduced six ex-Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200ER aircraft to replace the leased Boeing 767s. The airline also introduced Royal Brunei Holidays, a revamp of Golden Touch Holidays, offering value for money packages for holidays locally and abroad.
In June 2011, Royal Brunei Airlines announced that it was implementing a plan to improve customer service experience and its operations. As part of the plan, services to Auckland, Brisbane, Perth, Ho Chi Minh City, and Kuching were suspended after the last scheduled flights in 2011.
In 2013, to strengthen and revitalise its regional network, the airline leased two additional Airbus A320. Also, Royal Brunei Airlines was the first Southeast Asian airline to take delivery of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The 787 Dreamliner’s inaugural flight was from Bandar Seri Begawan to Singapore on October 18, and flights to London Heathrow via Dubai using the 787s started in December.
In 2014, Royal Brunei Airlines resumed flights to Bali and Ho Chi Minh City.
In 2015, two new Airbus A320 aircraft joined the fleet in the fall, to replace the Airbus A319 aircraft, marking the start of the programme to modernise the narrowbody fleet. Royal Brunei Airlines plans to expand its short-haul aircraft fleet, with up to 10 Airbus A320s to be delivered from the end of 2017.
In 2016, Royal Brunei Airlines introduced RB Upgrades – a new online feature which provides the opportunity for Economy passengers to enjoy RB’s renowned Business Class experience by making an offer for an upgrade.
In December 2017, Royal Brunei Airlines introduced a new Business Class Lounge at Brunei International Airport and launched the newly upgraded Sky Lounge, also open to walk-in guests for the first time in Brunei.
In 2018, 7 new Airbus A320neo aircraft are expected to join the fleet. An official launch of the A320neo fleet was held in September 2018. With the addition of the A320neo aircraft, Royal Brunei Airlines will have one of the youngest fleets in the world with an average fleet age of 2 years.
In 2018, 7 new Airbus A320neo aircraft are expected to join the fleet. An official launch of the A320neo fleet was held in September 2018. With the addition of the world’s most modern, fuel-efficient, and comfortable single-aisle aircraft, Royal Brunei Airlines will have one of the youngest fleets in the world with an average fleet age of 2 years, also successfully fulfilling its plans to offer a « 100% Dreamliner service » on all its long-haul routes.
In March 2019, Royal Brunei Airlines will launch non-stop service to Narita International Airport, connecting Brunei and Tokyo, Japan.
No fatal accidents involving Royal Brunei Airlines were registered so far.