Airline designators are abbreviated codes which are internationally recognized and used to identify airlines, promote conformity, and facilitate business-to-business interaction. Airline designators are sometimes called airline codes, designator codes, or simply designators.
Most commonly, airline designators refer to those assigned by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). On airline boards and tickets, usually these are coupled with the Flight Number, such as DL1234, where “DL” is the designator for Delta Airlines, and 1234 is the flight number. Another popular database of airline designator codes are compiled by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The IATA standard uses 2-digit abbreviations, such as AA for American Airlines. The ICAO standard uses 3-digit abbreviations, such as AAL for American Airlines. These two organizations also offer their standardized airport designators.