I have found a peculiarity in the IATA codes used to identify airlines.

Both BHAir (Bulgaria) and Heli France (France) have the IATA code 8H.

Any ideas why this is and doesn't this cause problems?


1 Answer 1


It's possible for two airlines to share the same code, under some circumstances. They're usually in different regions of the world. There are only a limited number of two-letter combinations.

In addition, from Wiki:

After an airline is delisted, IATA can make the code available for reuse after six months and can issue "controlled duplicates". Controlled duplicates are issued to regional airlines whose destinations are not likely to overlap, so that the same code is shared by two airlines. The controlled duplicate is denoted here, and in IATA literature, with an asterisk (*).

My working theory is that possibly Heli France has shutdown? I can't find recent references to it...

To back up this theory, it's worth noting that Fly Lappeeenranta also had the same IATA code, but stopped flying in 2010.

so in conclusion, it's entirely possible for airlines to re-use past IATA codes, and also potentially possible for duplicate ones in non-overlapping regions of the world, given the limited set of 2-letter codes ((26+10)^2) = 1296 airlines.

  • 3
    +1 This is the correct answer, and it is not a theory as you said, it is a fact, once the airlines is not IATA member any more, IATA can use the same code for other airlines. Aug 1, 2013 at 16:17
  • 1
    its actually less, because O and 0 or 1 and I are not both used to avoid confusion. Thats also the reason why no airline uses rows/seats I but J instead
    – user10043
    Jan 21, 2014 at 1:39

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