ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) Codes are similar to the IATA codes, with a few notable differences. Unlike IATA codes, ICAO airport codes consist of four characters organized by a strong set of guidelines. All airports receive a code, even private plane airports.


IATA codes are typically used for airline timetables, reservations, and baggage tags. They’re also the more common airport designator among civilians. The nomenclatures for IATA codes are typically assigned based on the airport name or city.

ICAO codes differ from IATA codes in many ways. They’re less common to passengers, and the nomenclature is created based on the airport’s region and country. ICAO codes are also assigned to private plane airports, weather stations, International flight service stations and area control centres.

It’s in the Name

Generally speaking, the first letter of an ICAO code refers to the country where the airport is located. The second letter digs a little deeper and discerns the region within the country. For example, Exxx is used as the first letter for all European airports. The second letter then identifies which region of Europe the airport is located in. EGxxx refers to Great Britian, EFxx refers to Finland, and so on.

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