So what's the meaning of all these airport codes and
where do they come from?
Who put the O in SFO when it's San Francisco's airport
code? Why is Orlando, Florida MCO? Why is Buenos Aires EZE? Who makes these codes
up anyway, and what do they mean. OK, we can all figure out DFW -- Dallas Fort Worth,
but who decided on the code and who said, "go ahead you can use it". I would like
to compile a reference book on the reasons behind each code, but I don't think I would
get many readers, except you perhaps?
The broad rationale behind these codes is that the people
who own or operate the airport collectively decide on the code they would like, with
a few restrictions on using K,N or W as the first letter and not using a similar code
to a nearby airport, and ask IATA whether they can use the code.
While I don't know of any hard and fast rules, the people
who decide on the code try to come up with some letter combination that satisfies
their particular desires or geographical location (county, region). Eg. If it's a
new airport then they are free to choose letters that resemble a city (DEN). If it's
a new airport on an old military base (MCO McCoy Airforce Base) or public piece of
land (LHR London's Heathrow Park,or ORD Chicago's Orchard Field) then they might use
the name of some old general or public space in conjunction with the city. Sometimes
it's a compromise, such as San Francisco and Oakland. Sometime a city like San Jose
(SJC) in California is beaten to its code by San Jose Costa Rica (SJO). Sometimes
it's pretty confusing -- for example Genoa in Italy is GOA but Goa in India is GOI.
Sometimes people jazz up their weather station codes with an X (like the X-files)
as in LAX, and sometimes as in Knoxville, TN its code TYS is from the Tyson family
who donated some money many years ago.
Moreover, the big cities with lots of airports: New
York, London, Milan, Tokyo etc have what are known as city codes e.g. NYC, LON, MIL,
TYO. These are to make it easier for people to remember, and for when you're trying
to get into or out of a city and you ask an agent to help, they use these codes in
their computer systems and the system gives them all flights from all airports that
fall into the group. E.g. LON will give flights from LHR, LGW, STN, LTN and LCY.
Anyhow, now you have a nice and EZE explanation for
why those Argentineans named their airport after Sr. Ezeiza.
Finally, pilots, navigators and other technical people
refer to airports with four letter codes that work like alphabetical ZIP codes. These
codes are given by ICAO -- the International Civil Aviation Organization, and in general
they are very different (except in the USA) from the three letter codes known to most
od other technical people refer to airports with four letter codes that work like
alphabetical ZIP codes. These codes are given by ICAO -- the International Civil Aviation
Organization, and in general they are very different (except in the USA) from the
three letter codes known to most of the travelling public.
Actually if you have any info on the rhymes and reasons
behind any other specific airport codes please let me know, I just may start on that
book if I have enough material.