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Why Air Lines Vs. Airlines Vs. Airways?

Sun Jan 30, 2005 10:01 am

What if any difference (either superficial or technical) prompts a carrier to adopt the name "XYZ Airlines" vs. "XYZ Airways" vs. "XYZ Air Lines"?

jetBlue Airways
US Airways
Pan American World Airways
Delta Air Lines
Korean Air Lines
Ozark Air Lines
Northwest Airlines
American Airlines
United Airlines

I've always kindof wondered about the differences, one of the reasons why I'm asking this question now is reading about Eastern: They seemed to do business as "Eastern Air Lines" however the entity seemed to be officially known as "Eastern Airlines, Inc." (or at least that's how they've been sued)


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RE: Why Air Lines Vs. Airlines Vs. Airways?

Sun Jan 30, 2005 10:26 am

While an airline can certainly name itself anything it wants, and probably selects what to call itself for marketing reasons more than anything, there was a famous event in 1934 that caused upheavel in the naming of the existing U.S. airlines of the day.
In late 1933, Senator Hugo L. Black launched an investigation into the air mail contracts held by the nation’s airlines. These contracts, which meant life or death for an airline, had been organized and controlled by Postmaster General Walter Brown. Brown was a very aeronautical minded man and had made great, and sometimes unpopular, efforts to nurture the United States’ fledgling air transportation system. The end result of Senator Black’s investigation was that President Roosevelt cancelled all existing air mail contracts on February 9, 1934 and handed over air mail service to the U.S. Army Air Corps.

[The new] rules stipulated that no company bidding for an airmail contract could be affiliated with an aircraft manufacturing company ... furthermore, the new regulations on bidding for airmail contracts stated that no airline which had held an airmail contract during the Walter Brown era could bid for a new contract.

In order to re-bid for mail contracts, existing airlines reincorporated, usually just changing their names from "Airways" to "Airlines", etc.

You can see evidence of that in American Airways -> American Airlines here:


[Edited 2005-01-30 02:29:09]
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RE: Why Air Lines Vs. Airlines Vs. Airways?

Sun Jan 30, 2005 10:29 am

It is all based on whether the carrier wanted to keep an older style name (Air Lines), or newer. A lot of it also evolved from when the US Government stripped all the mail contracts from the various US carriers because of sketchy business practices, and those carriers all had to change their names to keep on carrying mail (AA used to be known as American Airways, etc.). It is all based on preference.

[Edited 2005-01-30 02:30:55]
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RE: Why Air Lines Vs. Airlines Vs. Airways?

Sun Jan 30, 2005 12:24 pm

Its whatever suits.
Personally Jet Airways sounds better than Jet Airlines.
& Indian Airlines sounds better than Indian Airways.
Air Sahara got their name changed from Sahara Airlines earlier.
Kingfisher Airlines sounds better too.
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RE: Why Air Lines Vs. Airlines Vs. Airways?

Sun Jan 30, 2005 1:01 pm

There's also a grammatical difference. The defination of "Air Line" is the shortest route (most direct) between two points. In the late 1800s, many railroads used the term in advertising and one in fact, the Seaboard Air Line used as part of the company's formal name. Thus many aviation companies chose to use "airline" vs. "air line."
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RE: Why Air Lines Vs. Airlines Vs. Airways?

Sun Jan 30, 2005 1:51 pm

I remember a while back delta tried to be Delta Air not airlines because there advertising was no more lines. I remember it was on a big billboard near LGA. Obviously that didn't work because it still isn't air.


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