IATA airport code

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An IATA airport code, also known as an IATA location identifier, IATA station code or simply a location identifier , [1] is a three-letter geocode designating many airports and metropolitan areas around the world, defined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The characters prominently displayed on baggage tags attached at airport check-in desks are an example of a way these codes are used.

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 manned air traffic control facilities in air traffic control, telecommunications, computer programming, weather reports, and related services.

A geocode is a code that represents a geographic entity. It is a unique identifier of the entity, to distinguish it from others in a finite set of geographic entities. In general the geocode is a human-readable and short identifier.

Airport location where aircraft take off and land

An airport is an aerodrome with extended facilities, mostly for commercial air transport. Airports often have facilities to store and maintain aircraft, and a control tower. An airport consists of a landing area, which comprises an aerially accessible open space including at least one operationally active surface such as a runway for a plane to take off or a helipad, and often includes adjacent utility buildings such as control towers, hangars and terminals. Larger airports may have airport aprons, taxiway bridges, air traffic control centres, passenger facilities such as restaurants and lounges, and emergency services. In some countries, the US in particular, they also typically have one or more fixed-base operators, serving general aviation.

Contents

The assignment of these codes is governed by IATA Resolution 763, and it is administered by the IATA's headquarters in Montreal. The codes are published semi-annually in the IATA Airline Coding Directory. [2]

Montreal City in Quebec, Canada

Montreal is the most populous municipality in the Canadian province of Quebec and the second-most populous municipality in Canada. Originally called Ville-Marie, or "City of Mary", it is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city. The city is centred on the Island of Montreal, which took its name from the same source as the city, and a few much smaller peripheral islands, the largest of which is Île Bizard. It has a distinct four-season continental climate with warm to hot summers and cold, snowy winters.

IATA also provides codes for railway stations and for airport handling entities. A list of airports sorted by IATA code is available. A list of railway station codes, shared in agreements between airlines and rail lines such as Amtrak, SNCF French Railways, and Deutsche Bahn, is available. Many railway administrations have their own list of codes for their stations, such as the list of Amtrak station codes.

Amtrak Intercity rail operator in the United States

The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak, is a passenger railroad service that provides medium- and long-distance intercity service in the contiguous United States and to nine Canadian cities.

SNCF national state-owned railway company of France

The Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer français is France's national state-owned railway company. Founded in 1938, it operates the country's national rail traffic along with Monaco, including the TGV, France's high-speed rail network. Its functions include operation of railway services for passengers and freight, and maintenance and signalling of rail infrastructure. The railway network consists of about 32,000 km (20,000 mi) of route, of which 1,800 km (1,100 mi) are high-speed lines and 14,500 km (9,000 mi) electrified. About 14,000 trains are operated daily.

Deutsche Bahn State-owned national railway company of Germany

Deutsche Bahn AG is a German railway company. Headquartered in Berlin, it is a private joint-stock company (AG), with the Federal Republic of Germany being its single shareholder.

List

List of airports by IATA code: A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

See also: List of airports by IATA and ICAO code

History and conventions

Airport codes arose out of the convenience that it brought pilots for location identification in the 1930s. Initially, pilots in the United States used the two-letter code from the National Weather Service (NWS) for identifying cities. This system became unmanageable for cities and towns without an NWS identifier, and thus, a three-letter system of airport codes was implemented. This system allowed for 17,576 permutations, assuming all letters can be used in conjunction with each other. [3]

National Weather Service United States weather agency

The National Weather Service (NWS) is an agency of the United States federal government that is tasked with providing weather forecasts, warnings of hazardous weather, and other weather-related products to organizations and the public for the purposes of protection, safety, and general information. It is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) branch of the Department of Commerce, and is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, within the Washington metropolitan area. The agency was known as the United States Weather Bureau from 1890 until it adopted its current name in 1970.

Predominantly, airport codes are named after the first three letters of the city in which it is located—ATL for Atlanta, SIN for Singapore, ASU for Asunción, MEX for Mexico City, DEN for Denver; IST for Istanbul; or a combination of the letters in its name, EWR for Newark, GDL for Guadalajara, JNB for Johannesburg, HKG for Hong Kong, SLC for Salt Lake City and WAW for Warsaw. Some airports in the United States retained their NWS codes and simply appended an X at the end, such as LAX for Los Angeles, PDX for Portland, and PHX for Phoenix. [3]

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport International airport in Atlanta, GA, US

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, also known as Atlanta Airport, Hartsfield, or Hartsfield–Jackson, is the primary international airport serving Atlanta, Georgia. The airport is located seven miles (9km) south of the Downtown Atlanta district. It is named after former Atlanta mayors William B. Hartsfield and Maynard Jackson. The airport has 192 gates: 152 domestic and 40 international. ATL covers 4,700 acres (1,902 ha) of land and has five parallel runways.

Atlanta Capital of Georgia, United States

Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. With an estimated 2018 population of 498,044, it is also the 37th most-populous city in the United States. The city serves as the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, home to 5.9 million people and the ninth largest metropolitan area in the nation. Atlanta is the seat of Fulton County, the most populous county in Georgia. Portions of the city extend eastward into neighboring DeKalb County.

Singapore Changi Airport international airport in Singapore

Singapore Changi Airport, commonly known as Changi Airport, is a major civilian airport that serves Singapore, and is one of the largest transportation hubs in Asia. It is currently rated the World's Best Airport by Skytrax for the seventh consecutive year since 2013. It is also the first Airport in the world to do so for seven consecutive years and is one of the world's busiest airports by international passenger and cargo traffic. The airport is located in Changi, at the eastern end of Singapore, approximately 20 kilometres northeast from Marina Bay, on a 13-square-kilometre (5.0 sq mi) site. Runway 02L/20R is known as Runway 1, 02C/20C as Runway 2, and 02R/20L as Runway 3. The airport is operated by Changi Airport Group and it is the home base of Singapore Airlines, Singapore Airlines Cargo, SilkAir, Scoot, Jetstar Asia Airways and BOC Aviation.

Sometimes the airport code reflects pronunciation, rather than spelling, such as NAN, which reflects the pronunciation of "Nadi" as [ˈnandi] in Fijian, where "d" is realized as the prenasalized stop [ⁿd].

For many reasons, some airport codes do not fit the normal scheme described above. Some airports, for example, cross several municipalities or regions, and therefore, use codes derived from some of their letters, resulting in DFW for Dallas/Fort Worth, DTW for DetroitWayne County, LBA for LeedsBradford (Airport), MSP for MinneapolisSaint Paul, and RDU for RaleighDUrham.

Canada has codes such as YUL in Montréal and YEG in Edmonton. It originally used two letters for identification of a weather reporting station in the 1930s. Additionally, preceding the two-letter code was a Y (meaning "yes") where the reporting station was co-located with an airport, or a W (meaning "without") where the reporting station was not co-located with an airport, and also a U where the reporting station was co-located with a non-directional beacon. An X was chosen if the last two letters of the code had already been taken by another Canadian airport, and a Z was chosen if the locator could result in confusion with a U.S. three-letter identifier.

Usage

Cities with multiple airports

In large metropolitan areas, airport codes are often named after the airport itself instead of the city it serves, while another code is reserved which refers to the city itself. For instance:

Or using a code for the city in one of the major airports and then assigning another code to another airport:

When different cities with the same name each have an airport, they need to be assigned different codes. These are some examples:

Sometimes, a new airport is built, replacing the old one, leaving the city's new "major" airport (or the only remaining airport) code to no longer correspond with the city's name. The original airport in Nashville, Tennessee was built in 1936 as part of the Works Progress Administration and called Berry Field with the designation, BNA. A new facility known as Nashville International Airport was built in 1987 but still uses BNA. This is in conjunction to rules aimed to avoid confusion that seem to apply in the United States, which state that "the first and second letters or second and third letters of an identifier may not be duplicated with less than 200 nautical miles separation." [3] Thus, Washington D.C. area's three airports all have radically different codes: IAD for Washington–Dulles, DCA for Washington–Reagan (District of Columbia Airport), and BWI for Baltimore (Baltimore–Washington International, formerly BAL). [3] Since HOU is used for William P. Hobby Airport, the new Houston–Intercontinental became IAH. [3] The code BKK was originally assigned to Bangkok–Don Mueang and was later transferred to Suvarnabhumi Airport, while the former adopted DMK. The code ISK was originally assigned to Gandhinagar Airport (Nashik's old airport) and later on transferred to Ozar Airport (Nashik's current airport). Shanghai–Hongqiao retained the code SHA, while the newer Shanghai–Pudong adopted PVG. The opposite is true for Berlin: the airport Berlin–Tegel uses the code TXL, while its smaller counterpart Berlin–Schönefeld uses SXF; the yet-to-open Berlin Brandenburg Airport has the airport code BER, which is also part of its branding. The airports of Hamburg (HAM) and Hannover (HAJ) are less than 100 nautical miles (190 km) apart and therefore share the same first and middle letters, indicating that this rule might be followed only in Germany.

Cities or airports changing names

Many cities retain historical names in their airport codes, despite the fact that their official name or its official spelling or transliteration is now different:

Some airport codes are based on previous names associated with a present airport, often with a military heritage. These include:

Other airport codes are inconspicuous in origin, and each has its own peculiarities:

In Asia, codes that do not correspond with their city's names include Niigata's KIJ, Nanchang's KHN, Pyongyang's FNJ, and Kobe's UKB.

Multiple codes for a single airport

Basel Mulhouse Freiburg Airport, which serves three countries, has three airport codes: BSL, MLH, EAP.

Use in colloquial speech

Some airports are identified even in the colloquial speech by their airport code. The most notable examples are LAX and JFK.

National policies

Since the U.S. Navy reserved "N" codes and the Federal Communications Commission has reserved the rights for "W" and "K", certain U.S. cities which begin with these letters had to adopt "irregular" airport codes when their airports opened: EWR for Newark, ORF for Norfolk, Virginia, EYW for Key West, Florida, OME for Nome and APC for Napa, California. [3] This "rule" does not apply outside the United States: Karachi is KHI, Warsaw is WAW, and Nagoya is NGO. In addition, since "Q" was used for international communications, cities with "Q" beginning their name also had to find alternate codes, as in the case of Qiqihar (NDG), Quetta (UET) and Quito (UIO).

IATA codes should not be confused with the FAA identifiers of US airports. Most FAA identifiers agree with the corresponding IATA codes, but some do not, such as Saipan whose FAA identifier is GSN and its IATA code is SPN, and some coincide with IATA codes of non-US airports.

Most large airports in Canada have codes that begin with the letter "Y", although not all "Y" codes are Canadian (for example, YUM for Yuma, Arizona and YNT for Yantai, China) and not all Canadian airports start with the letter "Y" (for example ZBF for Bathurst, New Brunswick). Many Canadian airports have a code that starts with W, X or Z, but none of these are major airports. When the Canadian transcontinental railways were built, each station was assigned its own two-letter Morse code. VR stands for Vancouver, TZ Toronto, QB Quebec, WG Winnipeg, SJ Saint John, YC Calgary, OW Ottawa, EG Edmonton, etc. When the Canadian government established airports, it used the existing railway codes for them as well. If the airport had a weather station, authorities added a "Y" to the front of the code, meaning "Yes" to indicate it had a weather station or some other letter to indicate it did not. When international codes were created in cooperation with the United States, because "Y" was seldom used in the US, Canada simply used the weather station codes for its airports, changing the "Y" to a "Z" if it conflicted with an airport code already in use. The result is that most major Canadian airport codes start with "Y" followed by two letters in the city's name: YOW for Ottawa, YWG for Winnipeg, YYC for Calgary, and YVR for Vancouver, whereas other Canadian airports append the two-letter code of the radio beacons that were the closest to the actual airport, such as YQX in Gander and YXS in Prince George.

Four of the ten provincial capital airports in Canada have ended up with codes beginning with YY, including YYZ for Toronto, Ontario, YYJ for Victoria, British Columbia, YYT for St. John's, Newfoundland, and YYG for Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Canada's largest airport is YYZ for Toronto–Pearson (YTZ was used for Toronto City Airport, so YYZ is the station code for a village called Malton, which is where Toronto Pearson International Airport is actually located). YUL is used for Montréal–Trudeau (UL was the ID code for beacon in the city of Kirkland, now the location of Montréal–Trudeau). While these codes make it difficult for the public to associate them with a particular Canadian city, some codes have become popular in usage despite their cryptic nature, particularly at the largest airports. Toronto's YYZ code has entered pop culture in the form of a popular rock song utilizing the "YYZ" Morse code signal. Some airports have started using their IATA codes as marketing brands. Calgary International Airport has begun using its airport code YYC as a marketing brand and name for the airport authority web site (yyc.com), [4] while Vancouver International Airport advertises as YVR (yvr.com).

Numerous New Zealand airports use codes which contain a letter Z, to distinguish them from similar airport names in other countries. Examples include HLZ for Hamilton, ZQN for Queenstown, and WSZ for Westport.

Lack of codes

There are several airports with scheduled service that have not been assigned ICAO codes that do have IATA codes. For example, several airports in Alaska have scheduled commercial service, such as Stebbins and Nanwalek, which use FAA codes instead. There are also airports with scheduled service for which there are ICAO codes but not IATA codes, such as Nkhotakota Airport/Tangole Airport in Malawi or Chōfu Airport in Tokyo, Japan. There are also several minor airports in Russia (e.g. Omsukchan Airport) which instead use internal Russian codes for booking. Flights to these airports cannot be booked through the international air booking systems or have luggage transferred to there, and thus, they are booked instead through the airline or a domestic booking system. Thus, neither system completely includes all airports with scheduled service.

See also

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References

  1. IATA. "IATA - Codes - Airline and Airport Codes Search". www.iata.org.
  2. IATA. "IATA - Airline Coding Directory". www.iata.org.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Airport ABCs: An Explanation of Airport Identifier Codes". Air Line Pilot. Air Line Pilots Association. 1994. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  4. "YYC: Calgary Airport Authority" . Retrieved 22 March 2015.