International Civil Aviation Organization airport code

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The ICAO (/ˌˌkˈ/, "I-K-O") airport code or location indicator is a four-character alphanumeric code designating each airport around the world. These codes are defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization, and published in ICAO Document 7910: Location Indicators.

ICAO codes are used by air traffic control and airline operations such as flight planning. They differ from IATA codes, which are generally used for airline timetables, reservations, and baggage tags. For example, the IATA code for London's Heathrow Airport is LHR and its ICAO code is EGLL. Most travelers usually see the IATA code on baggage tags and tickets and the ICAO code is used among other things by pilots, air traffic control and flight-tracking services such as FlightAware. In general IATA codes are usually derived from the name of the airport or the city it serves, while ICAO codes are distributed by region and country.

ICAO codes are also used to identify other aviation facilities such as weather stations, International Flight Service Stations or Area Control Centers, whether or not they are located at airports.

History[edit]

The International Civil Aviation Organization was formed in 1947 under the auspices of the United Nations, and it established Flight Information Regions (FIRs) for controlling air traffic and making airport identification simple and clear.

Code selections in North America were based on existing radio station identifiers. For example, radio stations in Canada were already starting with "C", so it seemed logical to begin Canadian airport identifiers with Cxxx. The United States had many pre-existing airports with established mnemonic codes. Their ICAO codes were formed simply by prepending a K to the existing codes, as half the radio station identifiers in the US began with K. Most ICAO codes outside the US and Canada have a stronger geographical structure.

Most of the rest of the world could be classified in a more planned top-down manner, as they didn't have as much established aviation legacy. Thus Uxxx referred to the Soviet Union with the second letter denoting the specific region within it, and so forth. Europe had too many locations for only one starting letter, so it was split into Exxx for northern Europe and Lxxx for southern Europe. The second letter drilled down: EGxx was the United Kingdom (G for Great Britain), EDxx was West Germany (D for Deutschland), ETxx was East Germany (the ETxx code was reassigned to military fields after the reunification), LExx was Spain (E for España), LAxx was Albania, and so on. France was designated LFxx, as the counterpart EFxx was the unambiguously northern Finland. (originally OFxx, as the more rigid geographical structure evolved over time; in the beginning, countries usually had "blocks" of codes; for example, Finland still has the country identifier OH- in its aircraft registrations)

Structure[edit]

Map of world regions classified according to the first letter of the ICAO airport code.
Map of countries classified according to the ICAO airport code prefix. Any correspondence between subnational regions and second letter also indicated. Micronations not labeled individually.

Unlike the IATA codes, the ICAO codes generally have a regional structure, are not duplicated, and are comprehensive. In general, the first letter is allocated by continent and represents a country or group of countries within that continent. The second letter generally represents a country within that region, and the remaining two are used to identify each airport. The exception to this rule is larger countries that have single-letter country codes, where the remaining three letters identify the airport. In either case, ICAO codes generally provide geographical context unlike IATA codes. For example, if one knows that the ICAO code for Heathrow is EGLL, then one can deduce that the airport EGNH is somewhere in the UK (it is Blackpool International Airport). On the other hand, knowing that the IATA code for Heathrow is LHR does not enable one to deduce the location of the airport LHV with any greater certainty (it is William T. Piper Memorial Airport in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania in the United States).

There are a few exceptions to the regional structure of the ICAO code made for political or administrative reasons. For example, the RAF Mount Pleasant air base in the Falkland Islands is assigned the ICAO code EGYP as though it were in the United Kingdom, but a nearby civilian airport such as Port Stanley Airport is assigned SFAL, consistent with South America. Similarly Saint Pierre and Miquelon is controlled by France, and airports there are assigned LFxx as though they were in Europe. Further, in region L (Southern Europe), all available 2-letter prefixes have been exhausted and thus no additional countries can be added. Thus when Kosovo declared independence, there was no space in the Lxxx codes to accommodate it, so airports in Kosovo were assigned BKxx, grouping Kosovo with Greenland and Iceland.[citation needed]

The letters I, J and X are not currently used as the first letter of any ICAO identifier. In Russia and CIS, Latin letter X (or its Morse/Baudot Cyrillic equivalent Ь) is used to designate government, military and experimental aviation airfields in internal airfield codes similar in structure and purpose to ICAO codes but not used internationally.[1] Q is reserved for international radiocommunications and other non-geographical special uses (see Q code).

In the contiguous United States, Canada and some airports in Mexico, most, but not all, airports have been assigned three-letter IATA codes. These are the same as their ICAO code, but without the leading K, W, or C.; e.g., YEG and CYEG (Edmonton International Airport, Edmonton, Alberta), IAD and KIAD (Washington Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, Virginia). These codes are not to be confused with radio or television call signs, even though both countries use four-letter call signs starting with those letters. However, because Alaska, Hawaii and United States territories have their own 2-letter ICAO prefix, the situation there is similar to other smaller countries and the ICAO code of their airports is typically different from its corresponding 3-letter FAA/IATA identifier. For example, Hilo International Airport (PHTO vs ITO) and Juneau International Airport (PAJN vs JNU).

ZZZZ is a special code which is used when no ICAO code exists for the airport and is normally used in flight plans.

A list of airports, sorted by ICAO code, is available below.

The coding pattern is hierarchical. First letter: location in the world/continent, Second letter: country, Third & fourth letter: city. For example, MSSS means M for Mesoamerica, S for El Salvador, SS for San Salvador. Similarly, MGGT signifies Mesoamerica, Guatemala, Guatemala.

Prefixes[edit]

Prefix code Country
A – Western South Pacific
AG Solomon Islands
AN Nauru
AY Papua New Guinea
B – Greenland, Iceland, and Kosovo
BG Greenland
BI Iceland
BK Kosovo
C – Canada
C Canada (currently CY and CZ used)
D – Eastern parts of West Africa and Maghreb
DA Algeria
DB Benin
DF Burkina Faso
DG Ghana
DI Côte d'Ivoire
DN Nigeria
DR Niger
DT Tunisia
DX Togolese Republic
E – Northern Europe
EB Belgium
ED Germany (civil)
EE Estonia
EF Finland
EG United Kingdom (and Crown dependencies)
EH Netherlands
EI Ireland
EK Denmark and the Faroe Islands
EL Luxembourg
EN Norway
EP Poland
ES Sweden
ET Germany (military)
EV Latvia
EY Lithuania
F – Most of Central Africa and Southern Africa, and the Indian Ocean
FA South Africa
FB Botswana
FC Republic of the Congo
FD Swaziland
FE Central African Republic
FG Equatorial Guinea
FH Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
FI Mauritius
FJ British Indian Ocean Territory
FK Cameroon
FL Zambia
FM Comoros, France (Mayotte and Réunion), and Madagascar
FN Angola
FO Gabon
FP São Tomé and Príncipe
FQ Mozambique
FS Seychelles
FT Chad
FV Zimbabwe
FW Malawi
FX Lesotho
FY Namibia
FZ Democratic Republic of the Congo
G – Western parts of West Africa and Maghreb
GA Mali
GB The Gambia
GC Spain (Canary Islands)
GE Spain (Ceuta and Melilla)
GF Sierra Leone
GG Guinea-Bissau
GL Liberia
GM Morocco
GO Senegal
GQ Mauritania
GS Western Sahara
GU Guinea
GV Cape Verde
H – East Africa and Northeast Africa
HA Ethiopia
HB Burundi
HC Somalia (including Somaliland)
HD Djibouti
HE Egypt
HH Eritrea
HK Kenya
HL Libya
HR Rwanda
HS Sudan and South Sudan
HT Tanzania
HU Uganda
K – Contiguous United States
K Contiguous United States
L – Southern Europe, Israel and Turkey
LA Albania
LB Bulgaria
LC Cyprus
LD Croatia
LE Spain (mainland section and Balearic Islands)
LF France (including Saint-Pierre and Miquelon)
LG Greece
LH Hungary
LI Italy
LJ Slovenia
LK Czech Republic
LL Israel
LM Malta
LN Monaco
LO Austria
LP Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira)
LQ Bosnia and Herzegovina
LR Romania
LS Switzerland
LT Turkey
LU Moldova
LV Palestinian territories
LW Macedonia
LX Gibraltar
LY Serbia and Montenegro
LZ Slovakia
M – Central America, Mexico and northern/western parts of the Caribbean
MB Turks and Caicos Islands
MD Dominican Republic
MG Guatemala
MH Honduras
MK Jamaica
MM Mexico
MN Nicaragua
MP Panama
MR Costa Rica
MS El Salvador
MT Haiti
MU Cuba
MW Cayman Islands
MY Bahamas
MZ Belize
N – Most of the South Pacific
NC Cook Islands
NF Fiji, Tonga
NG Kiribati (Gilbert Islands), Tuvalu
NI Niue
NL France (Wallis and Futuna)
NS Samoa, USA (American Samoa)
NT France (French Polynesia)
NV Vanuatu
NW France (New Caledonia)
NZ New Zealand, Antarctica
O – Pakistan, Afghanistan and most of Western Asia
(excluding Israel, Turkey, and the South Caucasus)
OA Afghanistan
OB Bahrain
OE Saudi Arabia
OI Iran
OJ Jordan and the West Bank
OK Kuwait
OL Lebanon
OM United Arab Emirates
OO Oman
OP Pakistan
OR Iraq
OS Syria
OT Qatar
OY Yemen
P – Eastern North Pacific
PA USA (Alaska) (also PF, PO and PP)
PB USA (Baker Island)
PC Kiribati (Canton Airfield, Phoenix Islands)
PF USA (Alaska) (also PA, PO and PP)
PG USA (Guam, Northern Mariana Islands)
PH USA (Hawaii)
PJ USA (Johnston Atoll)
PK Marshall Islands
PL Kiribati (Line Islands)
PM USA (Midway Island)
PO USA (Alaska) (also PA, PF and PP)
PP USA (Alaska) (also PA, PF and PO)
PT Federated States of Micronesia, Palau
PW USA (Wake Island)
R – Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Western North Pacific
RC Republic of China (Taiwan)
RJ Japan (also RO)
RK Republic of Korea (South Korea)
RO Japan (also RJ)
RP Philippines
S – South America
SA Argentina
SB Brazil (also SD, SI, SJ, SN, SS and SW)
SC Chile (including Easter Island) {also SH)
SD Brazil (also SB, SI, SJ, SN, SS and SW)
SE Ecuador
SF UK (Falkland Islands)
SG Paraguay
SH Chile (also SC)
SI Brazil (also SB, SD, SJ, SN, SS and SW)
SJ Brazil (also SB, SD, SI, SN, SS and SW)
SK Colombia
SL Bolivia
SM Suriname
SN Brazil (also SB, SD, SI, SJ, SS and SW)
SO France (French Guiana)
SP Peru
SS Brazil (also SB, SD, SI, SJ, SN and SW)
SU Uruguay
SV Venezuela
SW Brazil (also SB, SD, SI, SJ, SN and SS)
SY Guyana
T – Eastern and southern parts of the Caribbean
TA Antigua and Barbuda
TB Barbados
TD Dominica
TF France (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin)
TG Grenada
TI USA (U.S. Virgin Islands)
TJ USA (Puerto Rico)
TK Saint Kitts and Nevis
TL Saint Lucia
TN Caribbean Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten
TQ UK (Anguilla)
TR UK (Montserrat)
TT Trinidad and Tobago
TU UK (British Virgin Islands)
TV Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
TX UK (Bermuda)
U – Russia and Post-Soviet states, excluding the Baltic states and Moldova
U Russia (except UA, UB, UD, UG, UK, UM and UT)
UA Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
UB Azerbaijan
UD Armenia
UG Georgia
UK Ukraine
UM Belarus and Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast)
UT Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
V – South Asia (except Pakistan), mainland Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Macau
VA India (also VE, VI and VO)
VC Sri Lanka
VD Cambodia
VE India (also VA, VI and VO)
VG Bangladesh
VH Hong Kong
VI India (also VA, VE and VO)
VL Laos
VM Macau
VN Nepal
VO India (also VA, VE and VI)
VQ Bhutan
VR Maldives
VT Thailand
VV Vietnam
VY Myanmar
W – Maritime Southeast Asia (except the Philippines)
WA Indonesia (also WI, WQ and WR)
WB Brunei, Malaysia (East Malaysia)
WI Indonesia (also WA, WQ and WR)
WM Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia)
WP Timor-Leste
WQ Indonesia (also WA, WI and WR)
WR Indonesia (also WA, WI and WQ)
WS Singapore
Y – Australia
Y Australia (including Norfolk Island, Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands)
Z – East Asia (excluding Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Republic of Korea and Taiwan)
Z China (except ZK and ZM)
ZK Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea)
ZM Mongolia

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Related websites