ICAO airport code


The ICAO (/ˌˌkˈ/, eye-KAY-oh) airport code or location indicator is a four-letter code designating aerodromes around the world. These codes, as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization and published in ICAO Document 7910: Location Indicators, are used by air traffic control and airline operations such as flight planning.

Flag of the ICAO

ICAO codes are also used to identify other aviation facilities such as weather stations, international flight service stations or area control centres, whether or not they are located at airports. Flight information regions are also identified by a unique ICAO-code.

History


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 a C (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 (with the other half using the letter W, which is used in Southeast Asia). Most ICAO codes outside the US and Canada (except for some airports in Mexico) have a stronger geographical structure.

Most of the rest of the world was classified in a more planned top-down manner. 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 was more specific: 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), ECxx was Czechoslovakia (C for Československo; the code was dropped following the breakup and was split into two new ICAO codes: LKxx for the Czech Republic and LZxx for Slovakia), LExx was Spain (E for España), LAxx was Albania, LYxx was Socialist Yugoslavia (the codes were split into several republics when the country was broke up in the early 1990s; e.g. Croatia's new ICAO code LDxx (derived from D for Dalmatia) following that country's independence; thus LYxx retained the code for the republics of Serbia and Montenegro) and so on. France was designated LFxx, as the counterpart EFxx was unambiguously 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). Thus Uxxx referred to the Soviet Union with the second letter denoting the specific region within it, and so forth. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, such as those, republics Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania created ICAO codes EExx, EVxx and EYxx, respectively, Moldova, another former Soviet republic, created a LUxx ICAO code inline with neighboring Romania (currently assigning the LRxx code), while the other republics retained the Uxxx code.[citation needed]

ICAO codes versus IATA codes


ICAO codes are separate and different 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. ICAO codes are commonly seen by passengers and the general public on flight-tracking services such as FlightAware, but passengers will more often see the IATA codes, such as on their tickets and their luggage tags. 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. Far more aerodromes (in the broad sense) have ICAO codes than IATA codes, which are sometimes assigned to railway stations as well. Historically, IATA codes were also used in flight plans and for other air traffic control purposes in certain jurisdictions.[citation needed] Selection of ICAO codes is partly delegated to authorities in each country, while IATA codes which have no geographic structure must be decided centrally by IATA.

Structure


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 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, and unlike IATA codes, ICAO codes generally provide geographical context. For example, if one knows that the ICAO code for Heathrow is EGLL, then one can deduce that the airport EGGP is somewhere in the UK (it is Liverpool John Lennon 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 nearby civilian 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 and X are not currently used as the first letter of any ICAO identifier, and the letter J is only used in a ceremonial ICAO identifier granted to Jezero Crater on the planet Mars, JZRO.[1] In Russia and the 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.[2] Q is reserved for international radiocommunications and other non-geographical special uses (see Q code).

In the contiguous United States and Canada and for 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, C, or M.; e.g., YEG and CYEG both refer to Edmonton International Airport, Edmonton, Alberta; IAD and KIAD are used for Washington Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, Virginia; and MEX and MMEX were originally used for Mexico City International Airport, Mexico City, Distrito Federal (the latter code would be replaced with MMMX after the airport opened). 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 (i.e. "PA" for Alaska, "PH" for Hawaii"), 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, Kona International Airport (PHKO vs KOA) and Juneau International Airport (PAJN vs JNU). Notably, the ICAO code of the largest gateway to Hawaii, Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, also known by its former name, Honolulu International Airport, contains the IATA identifier PHNL (IATA: HNL), while Anchorage International Airport's ICAO code does the same: PANC (IATA: ANC). [citation needed]

ZZZZ is a pseudo-code, used in flight plans for aerodromes with no ICAO code assigned.

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

Pseudo ICAO-codes


In small countries like Belgium or the Netherlands, almost all aerodromes have an ICAO code. For bigger countries like the UK or Germany this is not feasible, given the limited number of letter codes. Some countries have addressed this issue by introducing a scheme of sub-ICAO aerodrome codes; France, for example, assigns pseudo-ICAO codes in the style LFddnn, where dd indicates the department while nn is a sequential counter. In the case of France, an amateur organisation, the FFPLUM (Fédération Française des Planeurs Ultra Légers, the "French Federation of Ultralight Motorized Gliders"), was formally named the keeper of these codes.[3] In Antarctica many aerodromes have pseudo ICAO-codes with AT and two digits, while others have proper codes from base owner countries such as NZ for New Zealand.

Prefixes


Prefix codeCountry
A - Western South Pacific
AGSolomon Islands
ANNauru
AYPapua New Guinea
B - Greenland, Iceland, and Kosovo (European Alternate)
BGGreenland
BIIceland
BKKosovo
C - Canada
CCanada
D – Eastern parts of West Africa and Maghreb
DAAlgeria
DBBenin
DFBurkina Faso
DGGhana
DICôte d'Ivoire
DNNigeria
DRNiger
DTTunisia
DXTogolese Republic
E – Northern Europe
EBBelgium
EDGermany (civil)
EEEstonia
EFFinland
EGUnited Kingdom (and Crown dependencies)
EHNetherlands
EIIreland
EKDenmark and the Faroe Islands
ELLuxembourg
ENNorway
EPPoland
ESSweden
ETGermany (military)
EVLatvia
EYLithuania
F – Most of Central Africa and Southern Africa, and the Indian Ocean
FASouth Africa
FBBotswana
FCRepublic of the Congo
FDEswatini
FECentral African Republic
FGEquatorial Guinea
FHSaint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
FIMauritius
FJBritish Indian Ocean Territory
FKCameroon
FLZambia
FMComoros, France (Mayotte and Réunion), and Madagascar
FNAngola
FOGabon
FPSão Tomé and Príncipe
FQMozambique
FSSeychelles
FTChad
FVZimbabwe
FWMalawi
FXLesotho
FYNamibia
FZDemocratic Republic of the Congo
G – Western parts of West Africa and Maghreb
GAMali
GBThe Gambia
GCSpain (Canary Islands)
GESpain (Ceuta and Melilla)
GFSierra Leone
GGGuinea-Bissau
GLLiberia
GMMorocco
GOSenegal
GQMauritania
GSWestern Sahara
GUGuinea
GVCape Verde
H – East Africa and Northeast Africa
HAEthiopia
HBBurundi
HCSomalia (including Somaliland)
HDDjibouti
HEEgypt
HHEritrea
HKKenya
HLLibya
HRRwanda
HSSudan and South Sudan
HTTanzania
HUUganda
K – Contiguous United States
KContiguous United States
L – Southern Europe, Israel, Palestine and Turkey
LAAlbania
LBBulgaria
LCCyprus
LDCroatia
LESpain (mainland section and Balearic Islands)
LFFrance (Metropolitan France; including Saint-Pierre and Miquelon)
LGGreece
LHHungary
LIItaly
LJSlovenia
LKCzech Republic
LLIsrael
LMMalta
LNMonaco
LOAustria
LPPortugal (including the Azores and Madeira)
LQBosnia and Herzegovina
LRRomania
LSSwitzerland
LTTurkey
LUMoldova
LVPalestine/Palestinian territories
LWNorth Macedonia
LXGibraltar
LYSerbia and Montenegro
LZSlovakia
M – Central America, Mexico and northern/western parts of the Caribbean
MBTurks and Caicos Islands
MDDominican Republic
MGGuatemala
MHHonduras
MKJamaica
MMMexico
MNNicaragua
MPPanama
MRCosta Rica
MSEl Salvador
MTHaiti
MUCuba
MWCayman Islands
MYBahamas
MZBelize
N – Most of the South Pacific and New Zealand
NCCook Islands
NFFiji, Tonga
NGKiribati (Gilbert Islands), Tuvalu
NINiue
NLFrance (Wallis and Futuna)
NSSamoa, United States (American Samoa)
NTFrance (French Polynesia)
NVVanuatu
NWFrance (New Caledonia)
NZNew Zealand, parts of Antarctica
O – Pakistan, Afghanistan and most of Middle East
(excluding Cyprus, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, and the South Caucasus)
OAAfghanistan
OBBahrain
OESaudi Arabia
OIIran
OJJordan and the West Bank
OKKuwait
OLLebanon
OMUnited Arab Emirates
OOOman
OPPakistan
ORIraq
OSSyria
OTQatar
OYYemen
P – (Former) U.S. North Pacific Territories and Kiribati
PAUS (Alaska) (also PF, PO and PP)
PBUS (Baker Island)
PCKiribati (Canton Airfield, Phoenix Islands)
PFUS (Alaska) (also PA, PO and PP)
PGUS (Guam, Northern Mariana Islands)
PHUS (Hawaii)
PJUS (Johnston Atoll)
PKMarshall Islands
PLKiribati (Line Islands)
PMUS (Midway Island)
POUS (Alaska) (also PA, PF and PP)
PPUS (Alaska) (also PA, PF and PO)
PTFederated States of Micronesia, Palau
PWUS (Wake Island)
R – North Western Pacific (Taiwan/South Korea/Philippines and Japan)
RCRepublic of China (Taiwan)
RJJapan (Mainland)
RKRepublic of Korea (South Korea)
ROJapan (Okinawa)
RPPhilippines
S – South America
SAArgentina (including parts of Antarctica)
SBBrazil (also SD, SI, SJ, SN, SS and SW)
SCChile (including Easter Island and parts of Antarctica) (also SH)
SDBrazil (also SB, SI, SJ, SN, SS and SW)
SEEcuador
SFUnited Kingdom (Falkland Islands)
SGParaguay
SHChile (also SC)
SIBrazil (also SB, SD, SJ, SN, SS and SW)
SJBrazil (also SB, SD, SI, SN, SS and SW)
SKColombia
SLBolivia
SMSuriname
SNBrazil (also SB, SD, SI, SJ, SS and SW)
SOFrance (French Guiana)
SPPeru
SSBrazil (also SB, SD, SI, SJ, SN and SW)
SUUruguay
SVVenezuela
SWBrazil (also SB, SD, SI, SJ, SN and SS)
SYGuyana
T – Eastern and southern parts of the Caribbean
TAAntigua and Barbuda
TBBarbados
TDDominica
TFFrance (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin)
TGGrenada
TIUS (U.S. Virgin Islands)
TJUS (Puerto Rico)
TKSaint Kitts and Nevis
TLSaint Lucia
TNCaribbean Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten
TQUK (Anguilla)
TRUK (Montserrat)
TTTrinidad and Tobago
TUUK (British Virgin Islands)
TVSaint Vincent and the Grenadines
TXUK (Bermuda)
U – Russia and post-Soviet states, excluding the Baltic states and Moldova
URussia (except UA, UB, UC, UD, UG, UK, UM and UT)
UAKazakhstan
UBAzerbaijan
UCKyrgyzstan
UDArmenia
UGGeorgia
UKUkraine
UMBelarus and Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast)
UTTajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
V – South Asia (except Afghanistan and Pakistan),
mainland Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Macau
VAIndia (West India)
VCSri Lanka
VDCambodia
VEIndia (East India)
VGBangladesh
VHHong Kong
VIIndia (North India)
VLLaos
VMMacau
VNNepal
VOIndia (South India)
VQBhutan
VRMaldives
VTThailand
VVVietnam
VYMyanmar
W – Maritime Southeast Asia (except the Philippines)
WAIndonesia (also WI, WQ and WR)
WBBrunei, Malaysia (East Malaysia)
WIIndonesia (also WA, WQ and WR)
WMMalaysia (Peninsular Malaysia)
WPTimor-Leste
WQIndonesia (also WA, WI and WR)
WRIndonesia (also WA, WI and WQ)
WSSingapore
Y – Australia
YAustralia (including Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Australian Antarctic Territory)
Z – Mainland East Asia
ZMainland China (except ZK and ZM)
ZKNorth Korea
ZMMongolia

See also


References