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meaning of obscure airport/airline codes?

meaning of obscure airport/airline codes?

Old Jan 3, 04, 2:25 am
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meaning of obscure airport/airline codes?

I'd be interested in getting to the bottom of this matter so that, in the future, when someone asks why B6 is B6 that I could provide a reasonably plausible answer. I found this article today which provides a nice start, but only a start. From the article:

The airports
Most of the airports codes suffer from the fact that they are no longer known by their original name, which makes the codes less pertinent


BWI - The Baltimore airport bears this code because it is officially the "Baltimore-Washington International Airport"

CVG - It's Cincinnati Airport, right next to Covington, Kentucky

DTW - Detroit Metropolitan Airport is also known as the Wayne County Airport, which explains the "W" at the end.

EWR, ORF - In the United States, airport codes start with N are reserved for Navy facilities. Therefore, cities with a name starting with N must use an alternate code. Therefore EWR is Newark Liberty International, NJ, and ORF is Norfolk, Virginia.
FCO - The Leonardo DaVinci Airport in Rome is also the Fiumicino Airport.

GIG - Rio de Janeiro International Airport is also known as the Tom Jobim International, or as Galeão, for its air force base. However its code is the abbreviation for its location, on Ilha do Governador (Governor's Island).
GRU - This code represents São Paulo's Guarulhos Airport, near the town bearing the same name.

IAD, IAH - Two airports in the USA bear the "IA" for "International (or Intercontinental) Airport". It's (in order) Washington Dulles and Houston Intercontinental.

JAX, KIX, LAX, PDX - The first two letters of each code (Jacksonville, Osaka Kansai, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon) perfectly make sense. But the final "X" is still not explainable. My conclusion: X means "International Airport".

LED - St. Petersburg, Russian Federation. Before the fall of Soviet Union, St. Petersburg was known as Leningrad.

MCI - Kansas City, Missouri. A really tough one. It took a while to find out that MCI stands for "Mid-Continent International Airport".

MCO - Orlando International. Another totally meaningless code for the average air traveller. Well it stands for "McCoy Air Field", the former name of the Military Air Base, before it transformed into an international airport.

MSP - The Minneapolis Airport is not only the airport for the big city, but also the smaller one and the capital: St. Paul.

MSY - The Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, Louisiana, has a code based on its not well-known previous name: Moisant Stock Yard (Thanks to Lawrence M. for this info).

NRT - The New Tokyo International Airport is mostly known as the Narita Airport.

ORD - For someone who only knows the airport as the Chicago O'Hare Airport, there is an unexplainable "D" in the end. "OR" already makes it sound "O'Hare"... But the real code stands for "Orchard Field", the former name of O'Hare Airport. One viewer explained that the "D" actually stands for "Douglas Field", as this airport was formerly used by Douglas Aircraft, later known as McDonnell Douglas.

PTY - Panama City. A simple mismatch of the letters taken from "Panama City"... The first "P" of "Panama" and the last two letters of "City"... Simple enough?

RSW - The Fort Myers, Florida, is yet another sufferer of the "Meaningless Code Syndrome". Its meaning: "Southwest Florida Regional Airport"... A little word inversion here.

YMX, YOW, YUL, YVR, etc. - It was about time to notice that all Canadian Airports with flight service have their codes starting with "Y" (such as, in order, Montreal Mirabel, Ottawa, Montreal Dorval and Vancouver). The YUL code is known nearly nationwide, just like LAX in the United States.

The airlines
Don't expect much here, the airlines have only two-letter codes, which leaves the possibilities for a less important, late arriving airline to find the perfect code.


AY - Finnair... When it was created, the national airline of Finland was Aero O/Y.

FI - Icelandair... It used to be an amalgamate of airlines in Iceland, and at some time, it used to be Flugfelag Islands (Airlines of Iceland, in Icelandic)

KE - Korean Air... Don't ask me why they took two very separate letters. Maybe it was their only choice.

LG - Luxair... The airline of the small nation of Luxembourg. Instead of taking the letters of the airline, they took them from the country's name, the first and the last one.

OK - CSA... This airline has the particularity of retaining its country's registration code prefix as an airline 2-letter code. OK is the country prefix for the Czech Republic. In its earlier color scheme, CSA even had the mention "OK Jet" on the tail. See our other codes page in Reference.

RG - Varig... They took the third and fifth letter for a good reason. VARIG is an abbreviation that officially means in Portuguese "Airlines of Rio Grande", a province of Brasil.

RO - Tarom... Again letters taken from the middle of the Romanian Airline. The "RO" at the end.

SU - Aeroflot... The Cold War is over, but the airline code isn't. SU stands for Soviet Union.

VS - Virgin Atlantic Airways... The first and the last letter of the full name of this med-size airline belonging to a mega-size world corporation
******************************************
Personally, I'm curious about WN, HP, BR, and all those airlines with numbers in their codes. The airports are slightly less mysterious, but there are some cool stories out there (e.g LIH, that stuff about the letter "N", etc.). Your knowledge/theories are welcome here!

[This message has been edited by moondog (edited Jan 03, 2004).]
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Old Jan 3, 04, 3:09 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Personally, I'm curious about WN, HP, BR, and all those airlines with numbers in their codes. </font>
As far as I know it's simply a case of all the two-letter combinations having been used up, so new airlines tend to end up with letter-number combinations (unless they are lucky, and manage to snatch up a two-letter code second-hand)
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Old Jan 3, 04, 8:20 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Personally, I'm curious about WN, HP, BR, and all those airlines with numbers in their codes.</font>
See: How are IATA airline codes picked?
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Old Jan 3, 04, 4:08 pm
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XNA for Fayetteville/Northwest Arkansas isn't a good airport code. Neither is:
- BNA Nashville (not sure what the origin is, perhaps there's a town of Blair/Nashville)
- HPN Westchester County/White Plains (perhaps the W got dropped from WHPN)
- BWI - Didn't they steal it from the original BWI airport in Papua New Guinea? Baltimore Friendship Airport used to be BAL.
- What's Scranton, PA? AVP?
- SMF is Sacramento. Perhaps it was Sacramento Mail Facility??
- SDF is for Standiford Field (now Louisville International Airport, a joke name because the only international flights are cargo flights). LOU is Bowman Field, a general aviation field which hasn't had commercial flights in decades.
- TYS in Knoxville must be someone's name. Perhaps Tyson?
- ARN is odd until one realizes that Stockholm's airport is Arlanda. MXP doesn't resemble Malpensa (Milan) except for the M.
- How did Malaga Torremolinos (Spain) get AGP? Maybe it lost the M, but where did the P come from?
- Mellilla (Spainish North Africa) is MLN. The M is logical, but the LN isn't.
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Old Jan 3, 04, 4:24 pm
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I see a whole load of unwanted Js, Qs, Xs, Ys and Zs in Europe, too...

ABZ (Aberdeen Dyce), BHX (Birmingham International), TXL (Berlin Tegel), SXF (Berlin Schönefeld), SXB (Strasbourg Entzheim), HUY (Humberside), BLQ (Bologna), LYX (Lydd), MXP (Milan Malpensa), HAJ (Hannover), LEJ (Leipzig-Halle), BIQ (Biarritz), Groningen (GRQ), Bergamo (BGY)...

I can only assume these are 'filler' letters when other combinations of letters are unavailable.

And of course, the 'can't find a relation' ones:

MME (Teesside Middleton), AGP (Malaga), ACE (Lanzarote), St Etienne (EBU)...

Historic reasons?

Then there are those with unobvious 'extended' airport names:

NWI (Norwich International), CWL (Cardiff Wales), LYS (Lyon St Exupéry), LBA (Leeds Bradford Airport), MJV (Murcia San Javier)...

But then, you seem to have some country-specific fillers. Like in France:

PUF (Pau Pyrénées), CCF (Carcassonne), CMF (Chambéry), PGF (Perpignan), TUF (Tours).

(Or in Canada, as previously mentioned).

Dunno, really. I guess it's all down to who gets there first...
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Old Jan 3, 04, 5:55 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">ACE (Lanzarote)</font>
The airport is located near the town of ArreCifE
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Old Jan 3, 04, 8:53 pm
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I believe SMF stands for Sacramento Metropolitan Field (now called Sacramento International Airport).

The land for the Knoxville Airport was donated by a Mrs. Tyson, the widow of a U.S. Army General whose son, a Navy aviator, died in a plane crash in England during WWII. She stipulated that it be named after him.
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Old Jan 4, 04, 10:52 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by seat 50J:

- HPN Westchester County/White Plains (perhaps the W got dropped from WHPN)
</font>

H = Harrison
P = Port Chester
N = North Castle

HPN is actually adjacent to these 3 Westchester towns.

HPN is NOT in White Plains, but for convenience sake, Westchester County Airport is referred to as White Plains. It's just a short 10-15 minute cab ride.
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Old Jan 4, 04, 11:30 pm
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The mailing address is in White Plains, no?
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Old Jan 5, 04, 10:03 am
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I did wonder why Norfolk was ORF, my g/fs local airport. Didn't know about the Navy connection on that

I though IAD / IAH might stand for International Airport Dulles / Houston though wasn't sure

Thanks for clearing that up
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Old Jan 5, 04, 10:07 am
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Why does Williamsburg / Newport News Int'l Airport havce the designation PHF?

I have no clue
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Old Jan 5, 04, 10:15 am
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Harrisburg (PA) International Airport is "MDT" because the airport (formerly Olmstead Air Force base way back when) is located in Middletown, PA.

HAR would seem to make more sense, but that's the much smaller municipal airport across the river in New Cumberland.
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Old Jan 5, 04, 11:10 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by seat 50J:
[B
- What's Scranton, PA? AVP?
[/B]</font>
The Scranton airport is actually located in Avoca, PA - Hence "AVP."

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Old Jan 5, 04, 11:47 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by seat 50J:
- BNA Nashville (not sure what the origin is, perhaps there's a town of Blair/Nashville)
</font>
As was pointed out in the article quoted by the OP, commercial airport codes in the U.S. generally cannot begin with the letter N. So cities that start with N often have interesting codes:

As was pointed out:
ORF - Norfolk
EWR - Newark
BNA - Nashville
PHF - Newport News

Also:

MSY - New Orleans
JFK, LGA - New York
IAG - Niagara Falls

Similarly, commercial airport codes generally cannot begin with K or W. Hence:

ILG - Wilmington, Delaware
MCI, MKC - Kansas City (International and Downtown, respectively)
ICT - Wichita
TYS - Knoxville
IAD, DCA - Washington

Ed


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Old Jan 5, 04, 11:50 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by fbgdavidson:
Why does Williamsburg / Newport News Int'l Airport havce the designation PHF?

I have no clue
</font>
Patrick Henry Field

Ed

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