Do ICAO and IATA codes ever change for airports in time? If they do, how often does it occur? I am developing an app for airports and I am thinking of setting the uniqueness of an airport through ICAO or IATA codes.

  • $\begingroup$ The app you're developing, I'm assuming that you'll probably be using some sort of a database to get the ICAO codes. That said, the database admin will probably handle the updates. $\endgroup$
    – RaajTram
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 5:12
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This might be straying into software development, but whereas those codes might make good unique indexes they might not make good primary keys. You mention the former, but I worry you actually mean the latter $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ We're just a few months away from IST changing from LTBA to LTFM en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Istanbul_New_Airport $\endgroup$
    – Florian
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 18:16

2 Answers 2


Yes it does happen.

  1. A city can build a new airport, in which case it will usually get a new ICAO code, but will get the original IATA (city) code. For example, Oslo changed from Fornebu to Gardemoen - Fornebu is ENFB, Gardemoen is ENGM; the OSL code was Fornebu but uis now Gardemoen.

  2. A city can rename its airport for political reasons, so again the codes are liable to change. Example 1 is New York - Idlewild KIDL was change to John F Kennedy KJFK Example 2 is Johannesburg - Jan Smuts International was FAJS, then renamed to Oliver Tambo International FAOR.


Yes. It's a pretty big deal so it won't happen often.

Changing the major airport for a city is a big reason. I think both Denver and Austin did this (new airport opened with a different code, then took over the old airport code).

Renames can also happen. JFK used to be IDL.

  • $\begingroup$ Another example would be Hong Kong... $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ And Beijing, Bangkok, Istanbul… $\endgroup$
    – jcaron
    Commented Nov 1, 2023 at 10:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .