Lightbug
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The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names....

Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:40 am

Most of these are givaways as they are specific and represent countries or specific territories. But then there are some that I can only scratch my head about. Airline names like Delta or Mesaba, Ethiad or EL AL. What does this all mean? I'm sure there are many others, but it would be interesting to learn more about how these came in to place.

Strange airline names and the background for these are very welcome.
 
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OzarkD9S
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:46 am

Delta started in the Mississippi Delta region of the southern US.

EL AL is hebrew for "to the sky" or something similar. Feel free to correct me.
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davescj
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:49 am

United was due to a merger of airlines http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Airlines#Beginnings.

Ironically, the founder of United also helped found continental (see above).

Dave
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steex
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:53 am

Mesaba is the Ojibwa word for "soaring eagle" and Etihad is the abbreviation of "United Arab Emirates" in Arabic.
 
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DocLightning
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:53 am

Delta is named after its original company Delta Air Service, which was a crop dusting and then passenger and mail service, serving the Mississippi Delta region.

They are not named after a Greek letter (well, not directly, anyway).

Southwest started in Texas. Go figure.

Mexicana was an interesting name. Was from Compania de Aviación Mexicana, or Mexican Aviation Company. The name translates literally to "Mexican." I think Cubana is exactly the same.

KLM stands for some Dutch name which is completely unpronounceable to humans.  
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rampart
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:55 am

Mesaba, I think, refers to the historic iron mining district in northern Minnesota, from whence the airline of that name once served. It's a native American word, but I don't know the translation.

-Rampart
 
azjubilee
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:57 am

To build on the meaning of Mesaba... it gets its origins from Ojibwa but also the company started in north central MN, in Grand Rapids which is on/near the Mesabi iron range. I've also read another translation means "Faithful friend, giant of the skies."
 
vv701
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:00 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 4):
KLM stands for some Dutch name which is completely unpronounceable to humans

"Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij" of which the literal translation is "Royal Aviation Company".
 
rampart
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:00 am

Quoting azjubilee (Reply 6):
I've also read another translation means "Faithful friend, giant of the skies."

Found it, and you are very close. In Native American Place Names by William Bright, "mesaaba" is Ojibwa (Algonquin) meaning "giant". I think the airline is first named for the location in Minnesota, secondarily for the translation.

-Rampart
 
Lightbug
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:00 am

.

Quoting steex (Reply 3):
They are not named after a Greek letter (well, not directly, anyway).

That was always my thought, but I guess I am wrong here. And Mississippi? Not to offend anyone, but that was not exactly what came to mind   .
 
B777LRF
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:02 am

KLM, translated, stands for Royal Airline Company.

Then theres AVIACO, which many mechanics will tell you stood for "After Visual Inspection All Corrosion Ok". They might be ever so slightly wrong tough  
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Quokka
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:02 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 4):
KLM stands for some Dutch name which is completely unpronounceable to humans.


KLM = Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij = Royal Aviation Company, but you knew that already. 
 
azjubilee
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:03 am

Nice catch Rampart! Mesaba has an interesting, long and proud history and I'm so glad the Mesaba name will live on in its new form when Colgan and Mesaba are merged.
 
zrs70
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:06 am

Many (former) US carriers are named for people:

Braniff
Trump
Muse (I think)
Hughes
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steex
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:08 am

Quoting rampart (Reply 8):
Found it, and you are very close. In Native American Place Names by William Bright, "mesaaba" is Ojibwa (Algonquin) meaning "giant". I think the airline is first named for the location in Minnesota, secondarily for the translation.

-Rampart

The following is a quote taken directly from the Mesaba website:

Quote:
1944
July 4th - Gordy Newstrom founds Mesaba Airlines in Coleraine, Minn. Takes name from American Indian word for “soaring eagle.”
Mesaba has one plane, purchased for $1,300 and used to shuttle employees of the Blandin Paper Company from Grand Rapids, Minn., to the Twin Cities.

See http://www.mesaba.com/index.php?opti..._content&task=view&id=32&Itemid=67
 
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KGRB
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:09 am

I like the names that have some character, like Mesaba, Chautauqua, Braniff, Delta, etc.

AirTran and jetBlue are so uncreative. The latter has literally no meaning, according to David Neeleman. Not sure about AirTran...

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 4):
KLM stands for some Dutch name which is completely unpronounceable to humans.

So the Dutch aren't humans?  
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vv701
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:11 am

"Qantas" is "Queensland And Northern Territories Air Services".
 
Lightbug
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:17 am

Quoting vv701 (Reply 16):
"Qantas" is "Queensland And Northern Territories Air Services".

From what I have heard this is the most misspelled name in the airline world; even travel agencies spell it like Quantas instead of Qantas.
 
Marambio
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:32 am

Quoting Lightbug (Reply 17):
From what I have heard this is the most misspelled name in the airline world; even travel agencies spell it like Quantas instead of Qantas.

Also www.quantas.com redirects to www.qantas.com  

- LAN Chile used to stand for Línea Aérea Nacional de Chile (Chile's National Airline). Nowadays, LAN means "Latin Airline Network".

- Avianca used to stand for Aerovías Nacionales de Colombia (Colombia's National Airways) until it was changed for "Airways of the American Continent" (Aerovías del Continente Americano).

- TACA used to stand for Transportes Aéreos Centroamericanos (Central-American Air Transport), until it was changed for "American Continent's Air Transport" (Transportes Aéreos del Continente Americano).

- PLUNA stands for Primeras Líneas Uruguayas de Navegación Aérea (First Uruguayan Air Navigation Lines).

- Aerolíneas Argentinas simply means Argentine Airlines in Spanish  

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danvs
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:35 am

TAM (JJ): Transportes Aéreos Marília (Marilia Air Transports), named after the city where it started operations back in 1961, still as an air taxi compay (Taxi Aéreo Marília).

Gol (G3): quite straightforward ("goal" in soccer), thought of as one of the things Brazilians enjoy most = soccer.

How about:
Biman Bangladesh?
Monarch (butterfly and/or monarchy?)
 
skyguyB727
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:37 am

Air Wisconsin (ZW) got its start in Appleton, WI. It's rather ironic that ZW headquarters is still in ATW, but the airline does not fly there. The only Wisconsin city served by Air Wisconsin is MKE.

Wisconsin Central Airlines started out in Clintonville, WI (CLI). Prior to becoming a scheduled airline, it served as a corporate shuttle for the Four Wheel Drive Corporation. Wisconsin Central later became North Central. North Central and Southern merged to become Republic. Republic bought Hughes Air West and was later acquired by Northwest. Of course, Northwest was then acquired by Delta.

As an interesting note, even after service to Clintonville was discontinued, Republic always listed Green Bay in its timetables as "Green Bay/Clintonville, WI". They always made reference to their roots.

Here's an interesting thing. Alaska Airlines (AS), while big in Alaska, is headquartered in Seattle, WA instead of a city in Alaska.

Cape Air (9K) is based in Cape Cod, MA. They have a very disconnected route structure. For example, they have a South Pacific division that flies as Continental Connection. It is not linked in any way with the rest of the 9K route system.

Great Lakes Aviation (ZK) used to be based in Fort Dodge, IA (FOD). Now they fly pretty much feeder service to and from DEN from various western cities. Wyoming and Colorado don't really have much to do with the Great Lakes region.
 
Marara
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:38 am

Qantas actually stood for Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Services.

Virgin Blue got their names because of the red jets after a public naming competition. In Australia someone with red hair will often be nicknamed 'bluey'. Also to have a blue with someone is to have a fight. They were going to have a blue with Ansett and Qantas
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2travel2know2
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:56 am

CM COPA Airlines used to be COmpañía Panameña de Aviación (Panamanian Aviation Company) now I think people believe it has something to do with Panamericana (Panamerican) instead of Panameña.
I'm not on CM's payroll.
 
rampart
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:58 am

Quoting steex (Reply 14):
The following is a quote taken directly from the Mesaba website:

When there is a chance of confusing origins of Native American words (often), I guess it's OK to play on the confusion and go ahead and name your airline after something possibly related to a bird. (I've seen "migizi" as Ojibwa for "eagle", which is close, I suppose.) I'll go with the references in the Bright book confirming mesaba = "giant", equivalent to the Minnesotan place name (refering the the mountain range, which could be thought of as large), but if the airline wants to have its own folklore, fine with me.

-Rampart
 
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DocLightning
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:46 am

Quoting KGRB (Reply 15):

So the Dutch aren't humans?

Is keesje human?  
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KELPkid
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:57 am

One must wonder about Mesa (YV): is Farmington, NM actually located on a geographical mesa? I have never noticed that, despite driving into FMN on several occasions.

Mesa is a common geographical feature in that part of the world, which is taken from Spanish, where it literally means "table." A mesa is a flat plateau that rises above the surrounding terrain, like what you would see on a Wiley Coyote cartoon...  

Of course, I think JMO gave Mesa a new meaning when he relocated airline headquarters to Mesa, Arizona...  
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BMI727
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 3:09 am

I believe that Lufthansa is basically the German word for airline. It was originally Deutsche Luft Hansa, or German Air Lines, but the Deutsche got dropped and the rest of it contracted. The Deutsche lives on with the three letter code DLH.
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steex
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 3:29 am

Quoting DanVS (Reply 19):
Biman Bangladesh?

"Biman" basically translates to "airplane" in modern Bengali, so the airline's name essentially translates to Bangladesh Airplane Airlines (if taken word-by-word) - not quite the same ring to it as Biman Bangladesh.
 
steex
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 3:31 am

Quoting rampart (Reply 23):
I'll go with the references in the Bright book confirming mesaba = "giant", equivalent to the Minnesotan place name (refering the the mountain range, which could be thought of as large), but if the airline wants to have its own folklore, fine with me.

Reasonable enough, just wanted to point to Mesaba's own take on that matter as well.
 
AAR90
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 3:53 am

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 25):
is Farmington, NM actually located on a geographical mesa? I have never noticed that, despite driving into FMN on several occasions.

Four Corners Regional Airport sits on a mesa. The city is essentially on three sides with La Plata Hwy to the west.
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ota1
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 3:55 am

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 26):
I believe that Lufthansa is basically the German word for airline. It was originally Deutsche Luft Hansa, or German Air Lines, but the Deutsche got dropped and the rest of it contracted. The Deutsche lives on with the three letter code DLH.

Well, this is not entirely true. The official name still is Deutsche Lufthansa or Lufthansa German Airlines (internationally). The word Lufthansa derives from Luft (German word for air) and Hansa which derives from Hanse (the German word for the hanseatic league - a medieval alliance of trading cities around the North Sea and the Baltic Sea).
 
VC10er
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:03 am

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 26):

I could be wrong but "LUFT" is "AIR" and" HANSA" is an acronym for a collection of German regions to the north. Like " VARIG". (Lipe, can you give us the full name for "VARIG" which is an acronym constructed like QANTAS. (Remember NO U AFTER Q IN QANTAS!!!)
The world is missing love, let's use our flights to spread it!
 
lutfi
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:06 am

Lufthansa doesn't mean airline. Hansa refers to the Hanseatic League, an old coalition of N German & Baltic trading cities. A closer meaning would be "flying trading organisation"

Most Asian names = country name. Cathay = alternative name for China. Garuda = mythical bird. ANA = All Nippon Airlines. EVA, the parent firm is Evergreen Shipping, but a US cargo airline already existed by that name. Ansett = founder's name.
 
ota1
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:07 am

Quoting VC10er (Reply 31):
VARIG

Viação Aérea RIo-Grandense
 
ota1
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:16 am

LOT - that derives from Polskie Linie Lotnicze meaning Polish Air Lines
CSA - today this stands for České aerolinie (Czech Airlines) but originally it meant Československé Státní Aerolinie (Czechoslovak State Airlines)
TAROM - Transporturile Aeriene ROMâne (Romanian Air Transport)
JAT - Jugoslovenski aerotransport (Yugoslavian Air Transport)

I know Malév is an abbreviation for Magyar Légiközlekedési Vállalat - I'm not sure if this means anything else than Hungarian Airlines though

[Edited 2010-10-24 21:18:48]
 
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yowza
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:18 am

Quoting steex (Reply 3):
Etihad

Etihad actually means union and in some cases united. It is not an acronym or a port manteau.

YOWza
 
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cpd
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:22 am

Quoting vv701 (Reply 16):
"Qantas" is "Queensland And Northern Territories Air Services".

Northern Territory and Queensland Aerial Services, Ltd:

http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airl...mage-gallery-advertising/global/en

What a very humble and small beginning. Could they have ever imagined that in 2010, the airline would operate large fleets of B737, B747, B767, A330 and A380, along with other various planes?

That early advertisement is remarkable.   And then it became Q.A.N.T.A.S. Ltd. With the remarkable ability to do Longreach to Brisbane in 10 hours! Big grin How things change.  Smile

[Edited 2010-10-24 21:26:48]
 
ota1
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:24 am

Got one more...

Arkia - hebrew for "I will soar" IIRC...
 
kaitak
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:28 am

SABENA - Societe Anonyme Belge pour L'Exploitation de la Naviation Aerienne.

Aer Lingus means "Air Fleet" in the Irish language.

Many languages use the same words for airlines; for example, many Turkish airlines end in "HY" (or "Hava Yollari"), as Turkish Airlines itself used to; Istanbul, Onur and others end in "HY", even if they don't use it on their aircraft.

Similarly, Dutch carriers (other than KLM) used to use this; before it was merged into KLM, the domestic Dutch airline was "NLM", or Netherlandse Luchtvaart Maatschappij; likewise, ALM was "Antillese LM" (not sure if I've got that spelling right".

EVA Air - part of the Evergreen shipping group; they wanted to use the Evergreen name for the airline, but of course it was already taken.

Quoting zrs70 (Reply 13):
Many (former) US carriers are named for people:

Braniff
Trump
Muse (I think)
Hughes

Yes, Lamar Muse was a former Southwest executive; you can also add Morris Air to that list.

Internationally, you have Ansett (it's founder was Reginald Miles Ansett). I'm sure there are a few others.
 
rwy04lga
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:35 am

Quoting steex (Reply 3):
Etihad is the abbreviation of "United Arab Emirates" in Arabic.

I believe it just means United

Quoting skyguyB727 (Reply 20):
The only Wisconsin city served by Air Wisconsin is MKE

Take heart, SG derves just one airport in Singapore

Quoting Marara (Reply 21):
Qantas actually stood for Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Services

QANTAS still stands for it to this day. The 'S' is service, not services.

FWIW, try - KonaKleeky LukeShtVart MotzKahPay -
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cpd
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:40 am

Quoting rwy04lga (Reply 39):
QANTAS still stands for it to this day. The 'S' is service, not services.

I'm afraid he's actually right - the very first ticket shows the name as "Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited", with the signature of M. Griffin for said company.

The first customer was a Mr Alexander Kennedy, and the pilot was a person called Hudson Fysh, the engineer W.A. Baird, and the route was Longreach to Cloncurry, and the cost was 11 Pounds.

[Edited 2010-10-24 21:42:56]

[Edited 2010-10-24 21:43:37]
 
steex
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:46 am

Quoting yowza (Reply 35):
Etihad actually means union and in some cases united. It is not an acronym or a port manteau.

I probably shouldn't have weighed in on that one as I'm neither an Arabic speaker nor a local, but my understanding is that Etihad is used locally as a reference to the UAE (abbreviation was not really the right word). I thought it stemmed from the way the Arabic term for the UAE is shortened to Etihad (which I do understand to mean Union as you note) rather than the full translation of Dawlat al-Imārāt al-‘Arabīyah al-Muttaḥidah, which uses a different variation of the word for United.

I believe a parallel example would be if someone created a "Union Airways" in the USA in reference to the country sometimes being referred to as "the Union" despite the fact that the actual name is United States of America.

At any rate, I apologize if my information is not correct.
 
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kgaiflyer
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:17 am

From Portuguese-language companies:

LAM -- Linhas Aereas de Mocambique

TAAG -- Transportadora Aerea Angola

TACV -- Transportes Aereos Cabo Verde

TAP -- Transportes Aereos Portugueses
 
MH017
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 7:02 am

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 10):
KLM, translated, stands for Royal Airline Company

Luchtvaart=Aviation, so 1st translation was correct (Airline=Luchtlijn or Luchtvaartmaatschappij)

Quoting kaitak (Reply 38):
ALM was "Antillese ALM Antillean Airlines (Netherlands Antilles)">LM" (not sure if I've got that spelling right".

Antilleaanse Luchtvaart Maatschappij for ALM
Surinaamse Luchtvaart Maatschappij for SLM
Koninklijk Nederlandsch Indische Luchtvaart Maatschappij for KNILM...
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aloges
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 11:23 am

TAM: formerly Táxi Aéreo Marília and later Transportes Aéreos Meridionais (TAM Brazil, Southern Air Transports) or Transportes Aéreos del Mercosur (TAM Paraguay), nowadays just "TAM Airlines" - however the company history has so many twists and turns that this is all a bit difficult to say.

VASP: Viação Aérea São Paulo (São Paulo Air Travel)

Ladeco: Línea Aérea del Cobre (Airline of the Copper)

kulula.com: "Kulula" is Zulu for "easily".
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cgnnrw
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:41 pm

LTU - Luft Transport Unternehmen (Air Transportation Company). Now a part of Air Berlin

CSA - Czech State Airlines
A330 man.
 
Woof
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:08 pm

Quoting steex (Reply 3):
Etihad is the abbreviation of "United Arab Emirates" in Arabic.

I thought Etihad was more closely translated to just "Union", although many think it is "United". I'm not sure if the latter should be taken as just an abbreviation of the UAE?
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rwy04lga
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 8:26 pm

Quoting cpd (Reply 40):
I'm afraid he's actually right - the very first ticket shows the name as "Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited", with the signature of M. Griffin for said company.

I stand corrected
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Viscount724
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 8:59 pm

Quoting zrs70 (Reply 13):
Many (former) US carriers are named for people:

Braniff
Trump
Muse (I think)
Hughes

Airlines named for people were actually in the distinct minority. It also seems to be bad luck from a longevity point of view. Almost all airlines named for people have either gone bust or merged into other carriers and lost their name. Other airlines named for people that no longer exist include Ansett Australia, Wardair, Braathens, Maersk Air, Ransome Airlines, Henson Airlines, Wien Air Alaska, Reeve Aleutian, Morris Air. Aero Lloyd, Lloyd Aereo Boliviano.

The only significant current airlines that come to mind still named for their founders are Ryanair and Martinair although the latter is now part of the AF-KL group. There are probably a few others. Scottish carrier Suckling Airways (named for the husband and wife founders) still exists but changed its name to ScotAirways several years ago and more recently started operating under the AF Cityjet brand.

Quoting vv701 (Reply 16):
"Qantas" is "Queensland And Northern Territories Air Services".

Territory (singular), like the name of the Australian state.

Quoting kaitak (Reply 38):
SABENA - Societe Anonyme Belge pour L'Exploitation de la Naviation Aerienne.

Navigation (not Naviation).

[Edited 2010-10-25 14:05:17]
 
aloges
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RE: The Meaning And The Origin Of Airline Names...

Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:37 pm

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 48):
Other airlines named for people that no longer exist include Ansett Australia, Wardair, Braathens, Maersk Air, Ransome Airlines, Henson Airlines, Wien Air Alaska, Reeve Aleutian, Morris Air. Aero Lloyd, Lloyd Aereo Boliviano.

...and Widerøe, too.

I was going to disagree on LAB because I never knew where "Lloyd" actually comes from, but having read up on it I have to say that the origin of the name is rather interesting as far as company names go. So thanks for the food for thought!
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