Although Philippine Airlines (PAL) was officially founded on February 26, 1941, its license to operate as an airliner was derived from merged Philippine Aerial Taxi Company (PATCO) established by mining magnate Emmanuel N. Bachrach on December 3, 1930, making it Asia's oldest scheduled carrier still in operation. Commercial air service commenced three weeks later from Manila to Baguio, making it Asia's first airline route. Bachrach's death in 1937 paved the way for its eventual merger with Philippine Airlines in March 1941 and made it Asia's oldest airline. It is also the oldest airline in Asia still operating under its current name. Bachrach's majority share in PATCO was bought by beer magnate Andres R. Soriano in 1939 upon the advice of General Douglas MacArthur and later merged with newly formed Philippine Airlines with PAL as the surviving entity. Soriano has controlling interest in both airlines before the merger. PAL restarted service on March 15, 1941, with a single Beech Model 18 NPC-54 aircraft, which started its daily services between Manila (from Nielson Field) and Baguio, later to expand with larger aircraft such as the DC-3 and Vickers Viscount.
Service during the early 1920s was sporadic: most airlines at the time were focused on carrying bags of mail. In 1925, however, the Ford Motor Company bought out the Stout Aircraft Company and began construction of the all-metal Ford Trimotor, which became the first successful American airliner. With a 12-passenger capacity, the Trimotor made passenger service potentially profitable. Air service was seen as a supplement to rail service in the American transportation network.