This is a list of airline codes. The table lists the IATA airline designators, the ICAO airline designators and the airline call signs (telephony designator). Historical assignments are also included.
|Airline codes for airlines beginning with:|
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. (Both are published twice-annually.) 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 20 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]
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 (*).
IATA also issues an accounting or prefix code. This number is used on tickets as the first three characters of the ticket number.
Since 1967, ICAO has also issued three-character airline identification codes (see the section below).
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 whom 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 1967.
An example is:
- Operator: American Airlines
- Three-letter designator: AAL
- Telephony designator: AMERICAN
Certain combinations of letters, for example SOS, 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.
Call signs (flight identification or flight ID)
- Type A: the characters corresponding to the registration marking of the aircraft.
- Type B: the telephony designator of the aircraft operating agency, followed by the last four characters of the registration marking of the aircraft.
- Type C: the telephony designator of the aircraft operating agency, followed by the flight identification.
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., KLM645 and KLM649 or BAW446 and BAW664.
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, or possibly to avoid confusion with a call sign used by an established airline.
Companies' assigned names may change as a result of mergers, acquisitions, or change in company name or status. 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.
- International Air Transport Association airport code
- International Civil Aviation Organization airport code
- International Civil Aviation Organization Official site
- ICAO On-line Publications Purchasing Official site
- IATA's Airline and Airport Code Search
- Airline Designator / Code Database Search (from Aviation Codes Central Web Site – Regular Updates)