Leskova From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 6075 posts, RR: 71 Reply 1, posted (8 years 4 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3593 times:
As far as I know, it's basically a "first-come, first-served" basis; older airlines got abbreviations that fit their names, but there's really not that much available any more, which is why numbers are also used for airlines (if I recall correctly, they've been used for non-airline codes for a bit longer - things like 2A for "Deutsche Bahn" or 1A for Amadeus).
It's also rather complicated to get a code changed - one example was Nürnberger Flugdienst, which had the code NS; since this is also the abbreviation for "Nationalsozialismus", they tried to get rid of it - and after the rebranding to Eurowings they were able to get a deal with the airline using the EW code up to that point.
There are also some airlines using codes that do not need a IATA code; airlines that only fly under other airlines' codes (some express carriers), as well as some charter carriers (ones that don't sell seats on a seat-only-basis) as well as some LCCs could probably function without IATA codes - but they have them nonetheless (but I guess there'll be a good reason for that).
Sabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 2, posted (8 years 4 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3586 times:
Quoting Leskova (Reply 1): and after the rebranding to Eurowings they were able to get a deal with the airline using the EW code up to that point.
They exchanged their codes to my knowledge, I think it was some airline from New Zealand.
As Frank wrote in reply # 1, the codes are assigned on a a "first-come, first-served" basis. Southwest couldn't get the SW code because it was already assigned to Air Namibia, makes on the first view no sense either but their original name was South West Air Transport, so they got their SW code but didn't change it after the airline was renamed into Air Namibia.
Another example is Icelandair, they have the code FI which would make more sense for Finnair, but Icelandair was once called Flugfelag Islands so they got their FI code.
Aeroflot has probably SU because it meant Soviet Union in former times.
Southwest took the WN code probably as a joke because it is the Northwest code the other way around.
Another example of such a joke code is Germanwings, they have 4U (for you).
Makes somehow sense, QF001 would mean Qantas Flight 001. The same for Hapag-Lloyd, they have HF and this makes perfect sense now because they renamed the company into Hapagfly a few months ago, but before it could simply meant Hapag Flight 001 on your boarding pass and on the flight information monitors.
Lincoln From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 3887 posts, RR: 8 Reply 3, posted (8 years 4 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3555 times:
Percisely what Leskova said
In the early days, from what I understand, the field was wide open and carriers got their pick (AA, CO, UA, DL, NW, EA, BN, FR? etc. being among the first) and codes were not recycled. As more airlines came along it became a matter of "What codes are available?" and latecommers like WN got stuck with two letter codes that don't really make any sense. (And there's also the case of regionals like SkyWest (OO) who probably couldn't care less about their code since it's something the public never sees).
Even later on in the game were airlines like JetBlue (B6) and the new Frontier (F9) who came after all of the two letter combinations were taken and are now into one letter one number combinations.
The codes are also recycled now... I'm not sure how long of a wait there is before a code gets reissued, but there is at least a little bit of a delay. In addition, some codes are assigned to multiple airlines on a regional basis (I think, but am not sure, that SkyWest's OO may be one of them, since SkyWest will never operate international flights)
Now, does anyone know what PSA's code was or if they even had a code?
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SATX From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 2840 posts, RR: 8 Reply 6, posted (8 years 4 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3507 times:
Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 2): Southwest took the WN code probably as a joke because it is the Northwest code the other way around.
I've wondered about this for a while, but I never came across the answer and I didn't have the guts to ask such a simple question when I was sure it was already covered. Maybe some WN employee will come by with a little more information and/or a link to a previous post.
Kudos to FlyingHippo for asking a question like this on A.net.
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Mainliner From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 383 posts, RR: 0 Reply 8, posted (8 years 4 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3497 times:
I believe America West got its HP designation from a company that was to be called Hawaiian Pacific, but never began service. However, I don't know anything about where it planned to fly from or what their fleet was to consist of.
Leskova From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 6075 posts, RR: 71 Reply 9, posted (8 years 4 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3493 times:
Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 2): The same for Hapag-Lloyd, they have HF and this makes perfect sense now because they renamed the company into Hapagfly a few months ago, but before it could simply meant Hapag Flight 001 on your boarding pass and on the flight information monitors.
Actually, it made sense before as well - the company's name is (or was, not sure if the legal entity was renamed to Hapagfly as well) actually Hapag Lloyd Flug... buf I admit that it fits better with Hapagfly. Doesn't change the fact that I still don't like the new name though...
Quoting FlyingHippo (Reply 7): How come ICAO codes are less frequently used? They use 3 letters which would have more combinations for airlines to use.
ICAO codes are used on the operational side, while IATA codes are used for things concerning the sales side; I'm guessing that this stems from the fact that sales (tickets and other documents) are mainly regulated by IATA, while ICAO has more influence on the operational side.
There have been numerous comments from IATA officials during the last few years hinting at IATA using ICAO's codes from some point in the future as well, but I'm not aware if any timeframe for that has been set (or if it's actually been decided at all).
SQ25J From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 308 posts, RR: 0 Reply 11, posted (8 years 4 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 3419 times:
I wanted to give my account....but will just say: you submit an application and make lots of phone calls to IATA coding departmnet in Montreal. When they approve an application-they call you and offer you codes available. In my case I was so thrilled I took the first one they offered.
An example is BR which was British Caledonian and is now Eva Air.
IATA codes (2-letter codes) are sometimes used in 'controlled duplication' by 2 airlines operating different operations in geographically distant areas where the codes are unlikely to ever appear at the same airport (sorry can't think of an example.
Some airlines are now only allocated ICAO (3-letter codes) eg AHR = Air Adriatic. ICAO codes are used for ATC communication. I understood that they will be introduced for ticketing purposes within the next few years too.
Sabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 13, posted (8 years 4 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 3409 times:
Quoting TimRees (Reply 12): IATA codes (2-letter codes) are sometimes used in 'controlled duplication' by 2 airlines operating different operations in geographically distant areas where the codes are unlikely to ever appear at the same airport (sorry can't think of an example.
X3 for example is assigned to Baikal Airlines and Hapag-Lloyd Express.
Cornish From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2005, 8187 posts, RR: 55 Reply 19, posted (8 years 4 months 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 3106 times:
As mentioned earlier, airlines apply to IATA for two letter codes. Many of thenm have codes for historical reasons, even if there current name doesn't seem too logical. Many of them just take the code they are allocated.
One thing I can tell you as ex-IATA staff, and knowing the member relations people there, is that there was always some stigma attached to a code made up of a letter and a number - i.e. B6, etc, in some parts of the world, and it was felt desirable to have a two letter code for prestige reasons. There are a number of carriers who were given a number/letter code initially but later applied for a two letter code. One that springs to mind is Transaero (now UN - can't remember the old code), and a few Chinese and African carriers have done the same.
But obviously the newer the airline, the less likely it is to have a code that has real meaning, unlike the AAs, AFs and LHs of this world.
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Kiwiandrew From New Zealand, joined Jun 2005, 8442 posts, RR: 14 Reply 20, posted (8 years 4 months 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 3067 times:
Quoting ClassicLover (Reply 18): Air New Zealand used to code international flights with "TE" and domestic with "NZ." Not sure when, but they dropped the "TE" and kept the "NZ" for all flights.
NZ was originally the domestic carrier ( National Airways Corporation )
TE was originally the international carrier ( Air New Zealand - previously Tasman Empire Airways Ltd)
the two carriers were merged in 1977 and the TE designator was dropped a couple of years later ( Air New Zealand's only fatal passenger flight carried the TE designator - ironic as it was really a "domestic" flight from AKL to AKL albeit overflying Antarctica on the way - perhaps after this the designator seemed tainted ) TE has since been recycled by one of the Baltic countries - Lithuania I think ( but please dont flame me if I am wrong )
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Kiwiandrew From New Zealand, joined Jun 2005, 8442 posts, RR: 14 Reply 23, posted (8 years 4 months 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 3047 times:
Quoting 747400F (Reply 22): Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 20):
ironic as it was really a "domestic" flight from AKL to AKL albeit overflying Antarctica on the way
hm always thought it was CHC-CHC flight
747400F - I'll split the difference with you we're both half right and both half wrong !
checking back it was meant to route AKL ( Antarctica ) CHC AKL - though CHC was intended purely as a refuelling stop as the dear old DC10-30 was not quite longlegged enough to do AKL Antarctica AKL without refuelling
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