Why Do Canadian Airport Codes Begin With The Letter Y?

For anyone who’s flown, you’ll know that every airport has a unique three-letter code associated with it. From…

Why Do Canadian Airport Codes Begin With The Letter Y?

For anyone who’s flown, you’ll know that every airport has a unique three-letter code associated with it. From tickets to barcoded luggage tags to boarding passes, you’ll see these IATA-administered codes everywhere. A good portion of the world’s airports have airport codes that make sense in relation to their respective city or historical name. So why do Canadian airport codes begin with the letter Y? Let’s find out.

Toronto’s Pearson International Airport is coded as YYZ. Photo: Toronto Pearson Airport

YVR (Vancouver), YYC (Calgary), YYZ (Toronto), YUL (Montreal) – all of these codes obviously begin with the letter Y. But before we get to the explanation, let’s see what most other airports are doing…

Canadians…the odd ones out

It really does seem like Canadian airports are unique in this respect. There doesn’t appear to be any other country in the world with a first-letter theme for its airport codes. On the contrary, many airports simply use a combination of letters that generally make sense with the city that an airport serves. Here are just a few examples:

  • LHR and LGW: ick
  • TPE: Taoyuan International Airport serves the city of Taipei (Taiwan)
  • NRT and HND: The two airports of Narita and Haneda both serve the Tokyo Metropolitan Area in Japan
  • DAR: Julius Nyerere International Airport serves the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam
  • KWI: Kuwait International Airport
  • BOG: El Dorado International Airport serves the city of Bogata (Colombia)

Sometimes airport codes are more associated with the airport’s name itself and aren’t tied to the name of the cities they serve. For example:

  • CDG: Paris Charles de Gaulle
  • JFK: New York’s John F. Kennedy
  • SVO: Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport
Vancouver International Airport
Vancouver International Airport is coded as YVR. Photo: Vancouver International Airport

From two letters to three

According to the Globe and Mail and its reference to an article by the Air Line Pilots Association, airlines originally copied a two-letter system used by the US National Weather Service to identify cities around the United States.

However, aviation services were growing fast in the 1930s, and towns without weather-station codes needed identification. Perhaps realizing the limits of a two-letter code, which provided only 676 combinations, it was decided that a three-letter system should be put in place. This would in turn provide a much more robust selection of 17,576 possible combinations.

Then, to ease the transition for existing two-letter-airports, some would use an X after the weather-station code. Thus, the code for Los Angeles’ airport became LAX.

Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport is designated YUL. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

So ‘Y’ Canada?

According to Airfarewatchdog, in the 1930s it was important to know whether or not an airport had a weather/radio station located on its premises for safety and landing reasons. If it did, the letter Y for “yes” was added in front of the existing radio call sign. However, in the absence of a weather station at the airport, a W would be used to symbolize that it was “without” one.

Thus, when the three-letter-system was imposed during the 1940s, most of Canada’s airports had already been using the Y for “yes” prefix due to weather/radio stations located on-site. It was then decided that this should remain in place for the overwhelming majority of Canada’s airports (some begin with the letter Z).

It should be noted that while Canada has the majority of the world’s airport codes beginning with the letter Y, there are a few outside the country that also start with the same latter – for example, Yakima, Washington (YKM) and Yuma, Arizona (YUM).

So if you didn’t know the reason before, you now know the story behind Canada’s airport codes. Hopefully, that wasn’t too long of a walk to get to a somewhat short answer!

What do you think about Canada using the letter Y to begin its airport codes? Is it too much of a break from convention? Let us know in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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How United Will Break Even With Demand Down 50%

United Airlines is focused on raising capital while the aviation industry continues to be rocked by the global…

How United Will Break Even With Demand Down 50%

United Airlines is focused on raising capital while the aviation industry continues to be rocked by the global health crisis. During a virtual conference call on Thursday, newly-appointed United CEO Scott Kirby spoke about his company’s plan to break even while demand is low.

There could be plenty of changes at United this year. Photo: Getty Images

A flexible approach

While the Chicago-based carrier does not know when demand will bounce back, its priority right now is to get its cash burn down enough to break even and be in an environment where demand is around 50 percent of what it was previously. Therefore it has a plan to reduce the amount of money it’s losing this year. Kirby says the key to achieving this is flexibility

He said the below during the conference call, which was attended by Simple Flying.

“And what we’ve been working on is building an unprecedented level of flexibility into our cost structure so that if demand is down 70 percent, we can get our cost base down close to 70 — certainly our variable costs down 70 percent. If it’s down 50 percent, then we can get our cost down 50 percent, if it’s down 30 percent, down 30 percent. And so we’re focused much more on building that flexibility.”

United LAX
It has been a challenging period for airlines across the globe. Photo: Getty Images

Three-point plan

Kirby shared that his firm has three pillars to raise capital to give it as much runway as possible to get through the crisis. He said that this process had been started early and there should be more to come. United previously estimated that it would be burning $40 million a day during this year’s second quarter. However, the executive is already confident that his staff is doing a great job of reducing this burn rate.

The businessman said that the estimated $20 million per day fourth-quarter cash burn is predicated on no improvement in demand from what was being seen in April. However, there has already been progressing. Therefore, passenger numbers are expected to get somewhat better by then.

During the conference call, Kirby shared the below about the three pillars:

“Obviously, we have the government loan, that’s still a possibility, and we’ll see more to come on that front. Second is get the cash burn down at the lowest ever possible. And again, we think we can get that to $20 million even without a recovery in demand. And then third is then to variabilize the cost structure at this point about, don’t try to pretend we know what demand is going to be, let the actual data tell us what it’s going to be and adjust the size the airline to what the demand really is.”

United Airlines Livery
United has not played down the potential consequences of the pandemic. Photo: United Airlines

Optimization is key

Kirby continued to state that in order to optimize this flexibility, United is going to need changes in some of its labor, vendor, and regional partner contracts. However, some of the agreements, such as the regional ones, give enough flexibility for the firm to adjust. However, to fully optimize, United will need revised agreements with others.

None of its contracts were designed for a world where demand might be down 50 percent or 70 percent. They were intended for a recession where the market is down 5 percent. Therefore, some added flexibility is needed.

Most of the airline’s aircraft remain on the ground. Photo: Getty Images

Everything is up for review

Additionally, Kirby said that anything is on the table, even its loyalty program. This asset is not only incredibly valuable, it’s one of the best pieces of collateral that United has. Ultimately, it spins-off a steady stream of cash.

Nonetheless, Kirby takes the responsibility of being CEO very seriously. The professional said that it is the first thing he thinks about when he sits down to work in the morning, and it’s the last thing he thinks about when he switches off the lights to his office at night.

To live up to that responsibility, he is determined to do what he can to position United to bounce back quickly when demand does start to return. He is also seeking to mitigate United’s long-term risk and protect jobs where possible.

Altogether, it’s not going to be easy, but United is showing its determination to limit the damage during this crisis. The second half of 2020 will be a long one for the airline, but by the time this year is over, it should be in much better shape. 

What are your thoughts on United’s plans to reduce its cash burn this year? How do you see the airline adjusting over the next few months? Let us know what you think about the situation in the comment section.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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