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Airlines & Airways - What Is The Difference?

Fri Jan 14, 2005 2:39 pm


American Airlines
Northwest Airlines


US Airways
jetBlue Airways

Air Lines:

Delta Air Lines

I do not understand the difference between Airlines & Airways. Please offer explanation if you can. Thanks. of the Future
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RE: Airlines & Airways - What Is The Difference?

Fri Jan 14, 2005 2:43 pm

Kyle, I like your birthday--same as mine! (Many years later than mine though!)

In answer to your question though... Same animal, different name! It's just whatever they want to call it.
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RE: Airlines & Airways - What Is The Difference?

Fri Jan 14, 2005 2:44 pm

To get technical on you for a second...when flying IFR you have Victor Airways that lead you from point to point. But Im sure its something as simple as US airways sounds like a brand and US Airlines sounds like a group of them.

My .02 deposited...

Look ma' no hands!
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RE: Airlines & Airways - What Is The Difference?

Fri Jan 14, 2005 3:00 pm

I used to think that Airways was somewhat classier than Airlines, because many of the better carriers had Airways in their name. Of course, I'm referring mainly to English-speaking carriers:

British Airways
Cathay Pacific Airways
Qantas Airways

Also, for some reason it was a North America thing to not usually have Airways in their name:

American Airlines
Canadian Airlines
Continental Airlines
Delta Air Lines
Northwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines
Trans World Airlines
United Airlines

And then there was USAir, which, for some bizarre reason, thought that changing their name to US Airways would turn their fortunes around!
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RE: Airlines & Airways - What Is The Difference?

Fri Jan 14, 2005 3:14 pm

Many of the older airlines started out with a different name. (American airways, Northwest airways, western air express, Eastern air transport, Delta air service, etc.) . I can't remember why the name change, but it was some legal technicality that forced companies to form new corporations. This would explain the slightly different names. I should remember why this all took place but college was 12 years ago. Perhaps a younger historian or someone with a better memory can tell us the why's of all of this.
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RE: Airlines & Airways - What Is The Difference?

Fri Jan 14, 2005 7:54 pm

Not sure if this is entirely true, but I've always thought that the term "airlines" resulted from the many airline mergers of yesteryear. Back before United Airlines existed, it was a single mail operator...with time, mergers occurred and I believe the plural form was introduced: United Airlines. If you trace the early history of many US carriers, you'll find that they had different names (ie Northwest Airways) until these mergers started in the late teens (1919 and so forth).

So when XYZ Airways and ABC Airways merged, you got AAA Airlines. That might serve to explain the early origin of the term "Airlines", but the usage of "Airways" vs. "Airlines" today is highly arbitrary I think. Just look at US Airways...formerly US Air. Today, air carriers largely pick whatever sounds better from a marketing standpoint. As someone said, I think US Air stayed away from ever branding themselves US Airlines because it sounds like multiple airlines. I guess the same could be said of American Airlines, but the public is so conditioned towards recognizing AA as a single entity that it is not a problem.

Hope that helps.
I love America. I guess that makes me Bush's poodle, but I'd rather be a dog in New York City than a prince in Riyadh.

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