On Wikipedia, a few obscure ex-Soviet airports like Tamchy Airport in Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan list "Russian IATA codes":


"ИКУ" being Cyrillic for "IKU", which is not a recognized code according to the official IATA finder. This Russian site lists "city codes" (Коды городов), but gives no source, and as bonus gives the ICAO code for Иссык-Куль as "UAFR" (which gcmap.com has never heard of).

Where do these codes come from? And does IATA play any part in maintaining them?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ interesting question. My guess is it's maintained by the Russians themselves much like the US has many fields with no international code because there's no international traffic. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Sep 1 '14 at 14:22

It's a Russian internal city or airport identifier. Many small cities don't have IATA codes, but do have internal Russian codes.

This system is called CRT (Center for schedules and tariffs, ЦРТ, Центр Расписаний и Тарифов) named after a department in the organization that manages them (see below). Wikipedia article cited below claims it's also called "Sirena" code (named after Sirena -- a booking system for airline and railway tickets).

Here's a translation of a fragment from Russian Wikipedia:

The internal city and airport coding system in the former USSR is structured analogous to IATA. [...]

The airport code in this system consists of 3 letters of the Russian alphabet. As in IATA codes, the 3-letter combination is interpreted as atomic and has no internal structure. As in case with IATA, all 3-letter codes are unique.

Like IATA, the codes were assigned to cities such that the code has something in common either with the name of the city or with its IATA code [...] Contrary to IATA, the internal codes were changed after cities were renamed in the 1990s: Saint Petersburg's internal code was changed from ЛЕД to СПТ, Samara (formerly Kuibyshev) -- from КУФ to СМШ, Ekaterinburg (formerly Sverdlovsk) -- from СВХ to ЕКБ.

Many small cities and airports in the former USSR have an internal code only.

In late 1990s foreign (non-Russian) cities were assigned internal codes because of the popularity of these destinations (e. g. Barcelona -- БЦН).

As of April 2009, there are about three thousand internal codes that are actively used.

It appears that the codes are maintained by the Transport Clearing House. The section Coding Directories on their page Schedule & Tariffs says:

STC maintains the aggregated database of coding directories for the purpose of universal use of codes in information systems for passenger services reservation and sales, publication of timetables and fares, ticketing, settlement and other commercial issues related to passenger services.

STC maintains the codifiers in pursuance of Provision on Assignment, Maintenance and Use of Internal Codes of Carriers, Organizations, Airports, Cities (points) and Civil Aviation Agencies (№ ДВ-63/и dated 12.05.94) and Directive "On Coding Directories Approval” (№ ДВ-109/и date 14.07.94).

STC supports the following coding directories:

Airlines Airports Cities

In Russian, STC is translated as CRT (ЦРТ) and I've heard people refer to the internal codes as "CRT codes".

  • $\begingroup$ +1, but would be worth mentioning that Центр Расписаний и Тарифов = "Center for Timetables and Tariffs" (Fares). $\endgroup$ Feb 28 '17 at 10:52
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    $\begingroup$ @jpatokal Thanks for suggestion. I've edited the answer. $\endgroup$ Feb 28 '17 at 11:31

Long story short, there is no such thing and @jwenting's comment is almost certainly correct (see edit below).

The only Google hits for "Russian IATA code" (apart from this question) are a series of Wikipedia articles on Russian airports, either on wikipedia.org itself or on other sites that have obviously scraped Wikipedia for content. All the articles (well, the ones I checked anyway) were edited by the same user and they refer to the same page as a source.

The table on that page has a column called "IATA code" which is actually empty for Tamchy. The code you mentioned is in another column called "internal code", presumably that means it's a domestic code used only in Russia and comparable - as @jwenting said - to the many 3-character US codes that have no IATA equivalent.

In other words, the Wikipedia contributor invented something that doesn't really exist; even the quoted source doesn't refer to ИКУ as an "IATA code".

EDIT: The Russian Wikipedia page on IATA codes goes into slightly more detail on the internal codes (translation from Google):

Sometimes this system of codes called "sirenovskoy" (from the ticket reservation system "Siren"), but the name is historically incorrect - this coding system used before the appearance of "Sirens"

The article also confirms @jwenting's comment:

Many small towns and airports in the former Soviet Union did not have the IATA code and have only internal code.

However, that page doesn't say who manages the codes and it doesn't provide any 'official' sources either, just links to other pages that simply list the codes. A cursory search of the Russian ministry of transport website doesn't turn up anything, but someone who actually speaks Russian might have more luck than me :-)

  • $\begingroup$ Sure, I wasn't expecting there to be a literal "Russian IATA code", but is there some organization that decides them? Or is it just one random guy on the Internet making things up? $\endgroup$ Sep 6 '14 at 6:12
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    $\begingroup$ @jpatokal probably the organization that oversees aviation in Russia. In the US the FAA assigns all airport codes, and IATA codes may be different or not exist at all for a given airport (e.g. FAA: UNV, ICAO: KUNV, IATA: SCE, or FAA: 50R, ICAO: none, IATA: none). Remember the IATA names are not regulatory names, they are industry names. $\endgroup$
    – casey
    Aug 27 '15 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ @casey Dig up that organization's website and their official list of codes, and the bounty is yours :) $\endgroup$ Aug 27 '15 at 23:29
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    $\begingroup$ I'm a Russian speaker - I've spent half an hour searching and found no official list of internal airport codes. I can try to ask on Russian aviation forums if you're really interested. $\endgroup$
    – Usurer
    Nov 24 '16 at 16:53

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