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njdevilsin03
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Airline 2 Letter Codes

Thu Oct 21, 2004 6:43 am

How did jetBlue receive B6? I figure the B must be for Blue but what does 6 stand for?
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Marambio
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RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

Thu Oct 21, 2004 6:53 am

How did jetBlue receive B6? I figure the B must be for Blue but what does 6 stand for?

Maybe because they think they are in the "big six" category... Big grin

Now seriously, when airlines' desired code is not available, they just pick a random one. This is quite common actually:
- B6 = JetBlue
- PL = Aeroperú
- A4 = Southern Winds
- XL = LanEcuador

and the list goes on...

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Marambio
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PanAm747
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RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

Thu Oct 21, 2004 7:11 am

WN and HP are my favorites - WIN and Hewlett Packard are how I remember them.

And do the airlines get to pick their code, or is it assigned?
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srbmod
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RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

Thu Oct 21, 2004 7:21 am

Airlines pick their own codes; when they apply for their code, they submit a list of codes so that if the one they want isn't available, they have other options. In the rare event that none of the codes they want are available, they get one assigned. Airline codes are reused as airlines go out of business:

EA used to be the code for Eastern Airlines
FL used to be the code for Frontier (the first one)

Other times, the code that would make sense isn't available. Southwest couldn't use SW because another airline was using it, so they got WN (I can't remember how they came up with it). America West got their code through their acquistion of the operating certificate of Hawaiian Pacific Airlines, which had gone bust (like many startups post-Deregulation).
 
Sabena332
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RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

Thu Oct 21, 2004 7:49 am

This is an interesting topic! I worked long time in the interline accounting department of an airline and after I saw lots of two-letter codes I became interested in them.

Some codes are logical, for example:

  • AA = American Airlines

  • LH = Lufthansa


  • Some others make absolutely no sense because no other code was available:

  • 4U = Germanwings

  • JK = Spanair


  • Some airlines had bad luck, a code that would make more sense for them is used by another airline:

  • Finnair has AY but FI would make more sense for them, FI has been assigned to Icelandair because their name used to be something like "Flugfelag Island".


  • Southwest has WN but SW would make more sense for them, SW is already assigned to Air Namibia which doesn't make sense either nowadays, but the country "Namibia" was called "South-West Africa" in the past, thus Air Namibia (or their antecessor) got the SW code. I also read somewhere that Southwest chose the WN code because Northwest has NW, some kind of a joke and easier to keep in mind for the flying public, when you know Northwest's code you also know Southwest's because you only have to swap the letters


  • There was even a two-letter code exchange between two airlines, Eurowings (the airline I worked for) had NS as code but the exchanged it with an airline from New Zealand, so they got their EW code.

    Patrick

    Edit: Typo

    [Edited 2004-10-21 00:54:02]
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    trickijedi
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:41 am

    Southwest got WN for Wer'e Nuts!
    Its better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than be in the air wishing you were on the ground. Fly safe!
     
    Cory6188
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 10:01 am

    Here's a list of all the codes I can come up with off the top of my head:

    AA - American
    AF - Air France
    AM - Aeromexico
    AS - Alaska
    AT - ATA
    BA - British Airways
    B6 - jetBlue
    CO - Continental
    CM - Copa
    DL - Delta
    FI - Icelandair
    FL - AirTran
    F9 - Frontier
    KL - KLM
    LH - Lufthansa
    MX - Mexicana
    OK - CSA Czech
    SK - SAS Scandanavian
    SQ - Singapore
    QF - Qantas
    UA - United
    US - US Airways
    WN - Southwest
     
    AAtakeMeAway
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 10:10 am

    Do you all remember that US Air used to have a different code (I believe it was AL?)
    Was US not available when they started, and if so, who had US before US Air?
     
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    September11
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 10:13 am

    ValuJet = V 7

    how odd!!!
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    searpqx
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 10:20 am

    US Airway's predecsessor was Allegheny Airlines, hence the code AL. When they changed their name to USAir, they also changed their code to US. They are the only airline I can think of off the top of my head that the airline itself was in continuous existance, but had a IATA code change.

    Duane
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    ClassicLover
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 10:26 am

    Apparently Qantas is QF because it means "Qantas Flight".

    As such, when you see it on a departure board, QF31 means literally "Qantas Flight 31".

    Dunno whether it's true, but it's kinda cool.

    Trent.
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    Marambio
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:00 am

    Aerolíneas Argentinas got AR because AA had already been taken. AR also makes sense, since AR's callsign is Argentina.

    Southern Winds couldn't get SW because it had already been taken by Air Namibia. They were given A4.

    LADE got 5U because LA is LanChile.

    Saludos,
    Marambio
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    Aeroflot777
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:07 am

    I don't know why but I love Aeroflot's SU. Call me nuts, but I love it. Although I really don't understand where it came from.

    Aeroflot777
     
    BAxMAN
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:18 am

    I don't know why but I love Aeroflot's SU. Call me nuts, but I love it. Although I really don't understand where it came from.

    Soviet Union?
    Mild green Fairy liquid
     
    JMSinTexas
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:20 am

    I don't know why but I love Aeroflot's SU. Call me nuts, but I love it. Although I really don't understand where it came from.

    Total guess, but maybe SU = Soviet Union???


    Baxman, it looks like you beat me to it!

    [Edited 2004-10-21 04:20:51]
     
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    Aeroflot777
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:20 am

    BAxMAN,
    WOW!!! I never even though of that, lol. I'm lame. Haha now that I think of it its so obvious. Well thanks.

    Aeroflot777
     
    Gecko
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:28 am

    Where do you apply to get the code assigned?
     
    18161
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:54 am

    A few codes that I cannot fully decode:

    AZ-Alitalia
    SV- Saudi Arabian Airlines
    EK- Emirates
    MI- Silk Air
    CX- Cathay pacific
    WY-Oman Air
    IC-Indian Airlines
    UL- SriLankan Airlines
    ....
     
    njdevilsin03
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 12:36 pm

    Like USA3000's code where in the world would they get that? But no one has the exact reasoning behind the 6 in B6?
    717, 727, 731, 732, 733, 734, 735, 73G, 738, 752, 753, 762, 763, 777, DC9, MD80, DC10, L1011, ERJ, CRJ, ATR, DH8, A300,
     
    flyiguy
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 2:46 pm

    I always though that America west was HP because they have a hub in Phoenix so it would be like Hub Phoenix - HP. Kind of like why Independence is DH for Dulles Hub.

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    jorge1812
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 4:28 pm

    @Sabena332

    The Germanwings Letter Code 4U was choosen for the customer, FOR YOU. That told me a purser of 4U when I was applying for a F/A job.

    Bye, Georg.

     
    cessnalady
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 6:02 pm

    Re: a few Mexican airlines. Go figure what the following codes came from:

    QA - AeroCaribe
    JR - AeroCalifornia
    6A - Aviacsa
    VW - Aeromar
    ZE - Azteca
    I can't remember about AeroLitoral, but it doesn't make sense either.

    Marie
     
    PhilSquares
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 6:37 pm

    The IATA airline code JB was is actually used by a helicopter company Helijet Airways located in Vancouver, BC. Hence Jetblue couldn't use that one, they had to resort to a "random" assignment from IATA.
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    Treg
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 6:56 pm

    Estonain Air and OV - doesn't make any sence as well  Sad

    Aero Airlines on the other hand has picked up EE and this one makes much more sence: Estonia in Estonian is Eesti (and EE is also used as Estonian identification in some standards)
     
    ly7e7
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 7:18 pm

    AZ-Alitalia

    Azzura?
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    FlyGuyClt
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 7:20 pm

    Some wild ones from the past in U.S. Aviation.

    QH- Air Florida
    ZO- Florida Express Airlines
    QQ- Reno Air
    QS-Northeastern International
    SI-Jet America Airlines
    TV-Transamerica Airlines
    BF-Mark Air
    BE-Braniff International (Part 3)
    FF-Tower Air

    Safe Flying  Smile
    Florida Express, Braniff II and ......
     
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 7:39 pm

    Re: Where do you apply to get the code assigned?

    I'm pretty sure it's IATA who allocates carrier codes.

    BTW, GDS's and hosting systems also have IATA codes

    1A = Amadeus
    1B = Abacus
    1C = EDS Information Business
    1D = Raddix
    1F = Infini
    1G = Galileo
    1H = Comtech
    1J = Axess
    1K = Sutra
    1L = Open Skies
    1M = Sirena
    1N = Navitaire
    1O = Phoenix Systems
    1P = Worldspan
    1Q = Ital
    1R = Hainan Phoenix
    1S = Sabre (new)
    1T = Start
    1U = ITA
    1V = Apollo (Galileo)
    1W = Sabre (old)
    1X = Gabriel (SITA)
    1Y = EDS
    1Z = Fantasia
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    BAViscount
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 7:50 pm

    FI has been assigned to Icelandair because their name used to be something like "Flugfelag Island".

    The interesting thing is that Flugfelag Islands still exists as an airline, doing internal Icelandic flights as well as flights to Greenland and the Faroes and is I believe part of the same group as Icelandair, however their code is NY - any of the Icelandic contingent know why?
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    FDH
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 8:02 pm

    2-letter (+digit) codes give a total of 1296 combinations. Are all codes assigned to active airlines? There must be more than 1296 commercial airlines in the world, no? I guess that's why they came up with 3-letter codes...

    2-letter codes probably come from an era when computing resources (i.e. memory) was very precious and needed to be used very efficiently. Software developers propably figured that 2-letter codes would be enough for a long time...

    FDH
     
    Hirnie
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 8:15 pm

    I know that ICAO is responsible for the three letter codes, so I thought it would be for the two letter codes as well. Does IATA really allocate the two letter codes?
     
    OB1504
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 8:19 pm

    2-letter (+digit) codes give a total of 1296 combinations. Are all codes assigned to active airlines? There must be more than 1296 commercial airlines in the world, no? I guess that's why they came up with 3-letter codes...


    Don't they have duplicates of some codes, such as AL?
     
    richardw
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 8:41 pm

    Go Fly had the code OG which was used initially, with their 3 letter code GOE used in preference.
     
    JGPH1A
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:10 pm

    Re: 2-letter codes probably come from an era when computing resources (i.e. memory) was very precious and needed to be used very efficiently. Software developers propably figured that 2-letter codes would be enough for a long time

    That's actually true - worse still, it was just alpha-alpha codes up until the early 90's when alpha-numeric (and numeric-alpha) codes were introduced, which required a lot of work in legacy CRS and DCS systems to accomodate them. 3-character codes are permitted in industry standard messaging but not all systems are able to process them yet, so their use is not widespread. For instance, Easyjet use their 3-character code EZY in airport display and ATC systems, but in most check-in systems, the flight number on the boarding card is printed using their 2-character code U2. Their schedules are also published using their 2-character U2 code.
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    airsicknessbag
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Fri Oct 22, 2004 12:10 am

    >>>Go Fly had the code OG which was used initially, with their 3 letter code GOE used in preference.

    It was later changed to GO, guess they were more happy with that  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

    Speaking of happy, HP means Happy Passenger.

    >>>I know that ICAO is responsible for the three letter codes, so I thought it would be for the two letter codes as well. Does IATA really allocate the two letter codes?

    Sure, two letter codes are IATA codes. When IATA gives out three letters, it´s an airport.

    >>>US. They are the only airline I can think of off the top of my head that the airline itself was in continuous existance, but had a IATA code change.

    Others are Condor who went from DF to DE, European Air Express who started with something atrocious (5Y?) and then got EA, or, as Sabena332 pointed out, Eurowings NS->EW. Oh, and EW came from East West Airlines. And of course the above mentioned Go.

    Daniel Smile
     
    stlgph
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Fri Oct 22, 2004 2:22 am

    How did ATA come up with TZ?

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    FlyPIJets
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Fri Oct 22, 2004 2:55 am

    FDH and JGPH1A:

    Both of your answers are agreeing with something I was thinking about these 2 letter codes.

    I was thinking that the 2 letter identifiers began life as a Sabre system airline identifier and were assigned by Sabre. If your airline didn't play ball with Sabre, then you were given an oddball identifier.

    And that's actually how Southwest ended up with WN.

    In other words, in the early days, your airline had to pay a fee to Sabre to get your airlines initials as the two letter identifier, else, you would be assigned something odd.

    It also seems like that was a reason why this was valuable, remember, back then when you flew somewhere, you were MUCH more likely to inter-line.

    (I'm a right in my thinking about, anyone out there?)

    And, yes the 2 letter system was used to conserve computer resources, computers were that less powerful.

    [Edited 2004-10-21 20:05:12]
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    willbdsp
    Posts: 253
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Fri Oct 22, 2004 8:01 am

    Ahh, I heard that Southwest got WN meaning "We're Nuts" in reference to their business plan and some of the ideas they had early on.

     
    Tiger119
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Fri Oct 22, 2004 6:25 pm

    "AT - ATA

    - No Cory, ATA has TZ as it's IATA code.

    "How did ATA come up with TZ?"

    - I'm not 100% sure why they have "TZ" but, ATAs original name was "American Trans Air." They just took the sound of the "T" in Trans and the sound of a "Z" in "ns" at the end of Trans. If you look at some the older registration numbers off some of the planes, they ended in "AT" but that was some time ago.


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    SHUPirate1
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Fri Oct 22, 2004 6:45 pm

    Isn't Amtrak also in the GDS systems as 2V?
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    richardw
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Fri Oct 22, 2004 6:46 pm

    GB Airways's code is GT, wonder if they ever wanted GB ? or did Airborne Express get it first?
     
    JGPH1A
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Fri Oct 22, 2004 7:28 pm

    Re: Isn't Amtrak also in the GDS systems as 2V ?

    Yes it is - there are a number of rail systems with airline codes

    2A = Deutsche Bahn
    2C = SNCF
    2H = Thalys
    2R = VIA Rail Canada

    There is also 9B (Accessrail) that is the distributor for a number of rail companies like Swedish Railways, Eurostar and others.
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    FlyCaledonian
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Sat Oct 23, 2004 5:15 am

    Air New Zealand is now NZ, for obvious reasons, but until the early 1990s it was TE, from when the airline was known as Tasman Empire Airways! TE is now used by Lithuanian Airlines.

    Eva Air is another carrier that might appear to have an oddball code, BR, and this in fact was the code for British Caledonian prior to its takeover by British Airways.

    Canadian Airlines International was CP, from Canadian Pacific prior to its merger with Pacific Western Airlines (The merged carrier retained Pacific Western's Boeing customer code of 75 though).

    IATA also allows certain two letter codes to be used by two airlines at the same time, the code being classed as a controlled duplicate. An example of this is the codeTH, used by British Airways CitiExpress and Transmile Air Services of Thailand. The duplicate use presumably being allowed because what are the chances of these carriers operating within the same airspace?
    Let's Go British Caledonian!
     
    AEROFAN
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    RE: Airline 2 Letter Codes

    Sun Oct 24, 2004 12:40 am

    BW for BWIA - makes sense
    But VS for VIrgin Atlantic - shouldn't that be VA?
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