Airline codes

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This is a list of airline codes. The table lists IATA's two-character airline designators [lower-alpha 1] , ICAO's three-character airline designators and the airline call signs (telephony designator). Historical assignments are also included.

Contents

IATA airline designator

IATA airline designators, sometimes called IATA reservation codes, are two-character codes assigned by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to the world's airlines. The standard is described in IATA's Standard Schedules Information Manual and the codes themselves are described in IATA's Airline Coding Directory. [1] (Both are published semiannually.)

The IATA codes were originally based on the ICAO designators which were issued in 1947 as two-letter airline identification codes (see the section below). IATA expanded the two-character-system with codes consisting of a letter and a digit (or vice versa) e.g. EasyJet's U2 after ICAO had introduced its current three-letter-system in 1982. Until then only combinations of letters were used.

Airline designator codes follow the format xx(a), i.e., two alphanumeric characters (letters or digits) followed by an optional letter. Although the IATA standard provides for three-character airline designators, IATA has not used the optional third character in any assigned code. This is because some legacy computer systems, especially the "central reservations systems", have failed to comply with the standard, notwithstanding the fact that it has been in place for twenty years. The codes issued to date comply with IATA Resolution 762, which provides for only two characters. These codes thus comply with the current airline designator standard, but use only a limited subset of its possible range.

There are three types of designator: unique, numeric/alpha and controlled duplicate.[ clarification needed ]

This board at Geneva Airport shows airline codes including AC (Air Canada), LX (Swiss) and AZ (Alitalia). Departure board at Geneva Airport (cropped).jpg
This board at Geneva Airport shows airline codes including AC (Air Canada), LX (Swiss) and AZ (Alitalia).

IATA airline designators are used to identify an airline for commercial purposes in reservations, timetables, tickets, tariffs, air waybills and in telecommunications.

A flight designator is the concatenation of the airline designator, xx(a), and the numeric flight number, n(n)(n)(n), plus an optional one-letter "operational suffix" (a). Therefore, the full format of a flight designator is xx(a)n(n)(n)(n)(a).

After an airline is delisted, IATA can make the code available for reuse after six months and can issue "controlled duplicates". Controlled duplicates are issued to regional airlines whose destinations are not likely to overlap, so that the same code is shared by two airlines. The controlled duplicate is denoted here, and in IATA literature, with an asterisk (*). An example of this is the code "7Y", which refers to both Mid Airlines, a charter airline in Sudan, and Med Airways, a charter airline in Lebanon.

IATA also issues an accounting or prefix code. This number is used on tickets as the first three characters of the ticket number.

ICAO airline designator

The ICAO airline designator is a code assigned by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to aircraft operating agencies, aeronautical authorities, and services related to international aviation, each of which is allocated both a three-letter designator and a telephony designator. These codes are unique by airline, unlike the IATA airline designator codes (see section above). The designators are listed in ICAO Document 8585: Designators for Aircraft Operating Agencies, Aeronautical Authorities and Services.

ICAO codes have been issued since 1947. The ICAO codes were originally based on a two-letter system and were identical to the airline codes used by IATA. After an airline joined IATA its existing ICAO two-letter code was taken over as IATA code. Because both organizations used the same code system, the current terms ICAO code and IATA code did not exist until the 1980s. They were commonly called two-letter airline designators. At that time it was impossible to find out whether an airline was an IATA member or not just by looking at its code. In the 1970s the abbreviation BA was the ICAO code and the IATA code of British Airways, while non-IATA members like Court Line used their two-letter abbreviation as ICAO code only. In 1982 ICAO introduced the current three-letter system due to the increasing number of airlines. After a transitional period of five years, it became the official new ICAO standard system in November 1987 while IATA kept the older two-letter system that was introduced by ICAO in 1947. [2] [3]

Certain combinations of letters are not allocated, to avoid confusion with other systems. Other designators, particularly those starting with Y and Z, are reserved for government organizations. The designator YYY is used for operators that do not have a code allocated.

An example is:

A timeline of the airline designators used by American Airlines:

PeriodICAOIATARemarks
Before 1947--Airline designators did not exist
1947 to early 1950sAA-ICAO issued 2-letter-designators in 1947
early 1950s to 1982AAAAICAO designators were taken over by IATA in the early 1950s
1982 to 1987AA (AAL)AAICAO issued 3-letter-codes but kept the 2-letter-designators as official system
from 1988AALAA3-letter-designators became the official ICAO system in November 1987

Call signs (flight identification or flight ID)

Most airlines employ a call sign that is normally spoken during airband radio transmissions. As by ICAO Annex 10 chapter 5.2.1.7.2.1 a call sign shall be one of the following types:

The one most widely used within commercial aviation is type C. The flight identification is very often the same as the flight number, though this is not always the case. In case of call sign confusion a different flight identification can be chosen, but the flight number will remain the same. Call sign confusion happens when two or more flights with similar flight numbers fly close to each other, e.g., KLM 645 and KLM 649 or Speedbird 446 and Speedbird 664.

The flight number is published in an airline's public timetable and appears on the arrivals and departure screens in the airport terminals. In cases of emergency, the airline name and flight number, rather than the call sign, are normally mentioned by the main news media.

Some call signs are less obviously associated with a particular airline than others. This might be for historic reasons (South African Airways uses the callsign "Springbok", hearkening back to the airline's old livery which featured a springbok), or possibly to avoid confusion with a call sign used by an established airline. [ citation needed ]

Companies' assigned names may change as a result of mergers, acquisitions, or change in company name or status; British Airways uses BOAC's old callsign ("Speedbird"), as British Airways was formed by a merger of BOAC and British European Airways. Country names can also change over time and new call signs may be agreed in substitution for traditional ones. The country shown alongside an airline's call sign is that wherein most of its aircraft are believed to be registered, which may not always be the same as the country in which the firm is officially incorporated or registered. There are many other airlines in business whose radio call signs are more obviously derived from the trading name.

The callsign should ideally resemble the operator's name or function and not be confused with callsigns used by other operators. The callsign should be easily and phonetically pronounceable in at least English, the international language of aviation. For example, Air France' callsign is "Airfrans"; 'frans' is the phonetic spelling of 'France'.

In the previous years, alpha-numeric callsigns have been adopted by airlines (mostly in Europe) to minimise callsign confusion over the radio. These kind of callsigns may include a combination of: a digit and a letter, digit and two letters or two-digits and one letter. i.e. Airfrans 65 Kilo (AFR65K).

Accounting number or prefix code

The airline accounting code, or prefix code, is a 3-digit number, referenced by IATA and unique among all the airlines, used to identify the airline in various accounting activities such as ticketing. For instance, Lufthansa (LH/DLH) has been assigned 220 as accounting code, and all the flight tickets issued by that airline start with "220-". The IATA code search page [4] references the accounting code for every airline having one.

See also

Notes

  1. IATA has the optional third character in any assigned code, see IATA airline designator.

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International Civil Aviation Organization Specialised agency of the United Nations

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a specialized and funding agency of the United Nations. It changes the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth. Its headquarters is located in the Quartier International of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Air traffic control A public service provided for the purpose of maintaining the safe and orderly flow of air traffic

Air traffic control (ATC) is a service provided by ground-based air traffic controllers who direct aircraft on the ground and through controlled airspace, and can provide advisory services to aircraft in non-controlled airspace. The primary purpose of ATC worldwide is to prevent collisions, organize and expedite the flow of air traffic, and provide information and other support for pilots. In some countries, ATC plays a security or defensive role, or is operated by the military.

America West Airlines was a United States major airline, founded in 1981, with service commencing in 1983, and having reached US$1 billion in annual revenue in 1989, headquartered in Tempe, Arizona. At the time of its acquisition of US Airways, America West had the unique distinction of being the only post-deregulation U.S. airline still operating under its original operating certificate. Their main hub was at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, with a secondary hub at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. The airline acquired US Airways in 2005 but took on the name of US Airways. America West served about 100 cities in the US, Canada, and Mexico; flights to Europe were on codeshare partners. In March 2005 the airline had 132 aircraft, with a single maintenance base at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Regional jet and turboprop flights were operated on a code sharing basis by Mesa Airlines and Chautauqua Airlines as America West Express.

Codeshare agreement

A codeshare agreement, also known as codeshare, is a business arrangement, common in the aviation industry, in which two or more airlines publish and market the same flight under their own airline designator and flight number as part of their published timetable or schedule. Typically, a flight is operated by one airline while seats are sold for the flight by all cooperating airlines using their own designator and flight number.

Flight number

In the aviation industry, a flight number or flight designator is a code for an airline service consisting of two-character airline designator and a 1 to 4 digit number. For example, "BA 98" is a British Airways service from Toronto-Pearson to London-Heathrow. A service is called "direct" if it is covered by a single flight number, regardless of the number of stops or equipment changes. For example, "WN 417" flies from Jacksonville to Baltimore to Oakland to Los Angeles. A given flight segment may have multiple flight numbers on different airlines under a code-sharing agreement. Strictly speaking, the flight number is just the numerical part, but it is commonly used for the entire flight designator.

ICAO airport code Four-letter code designation for aviation facilities around the world

The ICAOairport code or location indicator is a four-letter code designating aerodromes around the world. These codes, as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization and published in ICAO Document 7910: Location Indicators, are used by air traffic control and airline operations such as flight planning.

IATA codes are abbreviations that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) publishes to facilitate air travel. They are typically 1, 2, 3, or 4 character combinations that uniquely identify locations, equipment, companies, and times to standardize international flight operations. All codes within each group follow a pattern to reduce the potential for error.

Speedbird Call sign used by British Airways during air traffic control procedures

The Speedbird is the stylised emblem of a bird in flight designed in 1932 by Theyre Lee-Elliott as the corporate logo for Imperial Airways. It became a design classic and was used by the airline and its successors – British Overseas Airways Corporation and British Airways – for 52 years. The term "Speedbird" is still the call sign for British Airways.

Aircraft registration Registration and identification assigned to an individual aircraft by national aviation authorities

An aircraft registration, alternatively called a tail number, is a code unique to a single aircraft, required by international convention to be marked on the exterior of every civil aircraft. The registration indicates the aircraft's country of registration, and functions much like an automobile license plate or a ship registration. This code must also appear in its Certificate of Registration, issued by the relevant National Aviation Authority (NAA). An aircraft can only have one registration, in one jurisdiction, though it is changeable over the life of the aircraft.

In broadcasting and radio communications, a call sign is a unique designation for a transmitter station. A call sign can be formally assigned by a government agency, informally adopted by individuals or organizations, or even cryptographically encoded to disguise a station's identity.

Bag tag Ticket attached to luggage for identification

Bag tags, also known as baggage tags, baggage checks or luggage tickets, have traditionally been used by bus, train, and airline carriers to route checked luggage to its final destination. The passenger stub is typically handed to the passenger or attached to the ticket envelope:

A location identifier is a symbolic representation for the name and the location of an airport, navigation aid, or weather station, and is used for staffed air traffic control facilities in air traffic control, telecommunications, computer programming, weather reports, and related services.

Janet (airline) Airline of the United States

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Jack Edwards Airport

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Airline ticket Entrance ticket used for air travel

An airline ticket is a document or electronic record, issued by an airline or a travel agency, that confirms that an individual is entitled to a seat on a flight on an aircraft. The airline ticket may be one of two types: a paper ticket, which comprises coupons or vouchers; and an electronic ticket.

In international aviation, SELCAL or SelCal is a selective-calling radio system that can alert an aircraft's crew that a ground radio station wishes to communicate with the aircraft. SELCAL uses a ground-based encoder and radio transmitter to broadcast an audio signal that is picked up by a decoder and radio receiver on an aircraft. The use of SELCAL allows an aircraft crew to be notified of incoming communications even when the aircraft's radio has been muted. Thus, crewmembers need not devote their attention to continuous radio listening.

Aviation call signs

Aviation call signs are communication call signs assigned as unique identifiers to aircraft.

Fly Armenia Airways LLC is an Armenian airline that was founded in October 2019 and received its Air Operator Certificate on July 2, 2020.

References

  1. IATA. "IATA - Airline Coding Directory". www.iata.org.
  2. jp aircraft markings, jp airlines-fleets international, Edition 1966 - Edition 1988/89
  3. Yearbook of the United Nations 41.1987, Chapter X at Google Books
  4. "IATA code search".