From Turkish Airlines to Virgin Blue, why these 10 airlines changed their names

Changing the name of a business is a big deal. And the bigger the company, the more millions you have to spend to make sure potential customers know who you are. For airlines, customer trust is particularly vital, so renaming is particularly dangerous. That’s not stopping Turkish Airlines, which is about to embark on the process – but past airline rebranding has had mixed results.

Turkish Airlines

The Turkish president has decided that the rest of the world should call his country Türkiye. And, as part of this campaign, Turkish Airlines is forced to change its name to its Turkish language name. The long process of painting “Türk Hava Yolları” on the planes has begun. Whether customers will adopt this heavier name remains to be seen… See turkishairlines.com

Huh Daland Dusters

Delta Air Lines Inc. planes are reflected at Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., Thursday, July 5, 2018. Delta Air Lines Inc. is expected to release numbers for its profits on July 12.  Photographer: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg

Delta Air Lines at Salt Lake City International Airport, Utah. Photo: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg

Huff Daland Dusters was a pioneer in 1928 when it started the world’s first aerial dusting operation in Macon, Georgia. It expanded across the Mississippi Delta, changing its name to Delta Air Services in 1928.

There have been several slight name changes since and several takeovers of other airlines. This crop dusting service has become Delta Air Lines, one of the giants of aviation, operating more than 5,000 flights a day. See delta.com

Katafaga Estates Ltd

A Fiji Air Pacific Boeing 737-800 on the runway at Nadi International Airport, Fiji.

A Fiji Air Pacific Boeing 737-800 on the runway at Nadi International Airport, Fiji. Photo: Alamy

Fiji Airways was founded in 1947, named after a coconut plantation. It was wisely renamed Fiji Airways in 1951 and bears that name today. What’s unusual about this case, however, is that it’s a brand the airline has reverted to. When Fiji became independent in 1970, the new government wanted to highlight the airline’s regional credentials, and it became Air Pacific. This decision took 42 years to reverse. See fijiairways.com

Other

Jordanian Airline 'Alia' flight attendants model uniforms in 1971.

Jordanian Airline ‘Alia’ flight attendants model uniforms in 1971. Photo: Alamy

What’s the point of being king if you can’t name it after your eldest daughter? So did King Hussein of Jordan in 1963. The flag bearer boldly stuck to a name that had no reference to the country he was based in for 23 years. Alas, it’s no longer an airline named after a seven-year-old girl – it’s now the slightly more boring Royal Jordanian. See rj.com

Malaysian airlines

Credit: RuthAS / Wikimedia Commons

Photo: RuthAS/Wikimedia Commons

Malayan Airways started life with a route from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in 1947. The first name change, to Malaysian Airways, was applied when the Malaysian Federation was founded in 1963. But when Singapore was expelled from the Federation in 1965, the name needed to change again – the airline was now called Malaysia-Singapore Airlines. In 1972 this was split into two separate operations, with the newly rebranded Singapore Airlines focusing on international flights. It worked out pretty well – Singapore Airlines is still considered to offer one of the best passenger experiences in the sky. See singaporeair.com

Tasman Empire Airways Limited

Credit: Jon Proctor / Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Jon Proctor/Wikimedia Commons

TEAL, as it was better known, began by offering services across the Tasman Sea. But he became most famous for his flying boat services to the Pacific Islands. Once a joint venture between the Australian and New Zealand governments, the Kiwis took over the Australians in 1961, changing the name to the much less manageable Air New Zealand four years later. See airnewzealand.com.au

All American Air Force

Alleghany Airlines.

Alleghany Airlines. Photo: Alamy

Founded in 1937 to fly mail from Pittsburgh, All American Aviation has grown to become one of the largest airlines in the world. It became Allegheny Airlines in 1953, then USair in 1979 and US Airways in 1997. But the expansion became unsustainable in the 2000s, with US Airways regularly flirting with bankruptcy. It was eventually swallowed by American Airlines, with all US Airways branding slowly erased. See aa.com

Airlines to Siberia

Credit: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt / Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt / Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps realizing that the prospect of Siberia is not so appealing to passengers, Siberia Airlines rebranded itself as S7 Airlines. It’s a brand change that was happening pretty well before the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The name change, reflecting Moscow becoming the main hub rather than Novosibirsk, came in 2005. S7 then joined the One World Alliance in 2010. Since sanctions were applied to Russia, S7 has been forced to abandon all international flights. See s7.ru

Queensland and Northern Territory Air Services

The original office at Longreach PX*D 294/vol.  6ttp://archive.sl.nsw.gov.au/Details/archive/110337581 Credit: Hudson Fysh / Wikimedia Commons

The original office in Longreach, Queensland. Photo: Hudson Fish/Wikimedia Commons

Yeah, that was quite a mouthful, wasn’t it? And it’s no wonder Australia’s largest airline is quickly becoming known by its acronym. This was formalized with international flights in 1935, when the new Qantas Empire Airways took off from Brisbane to Singapore. The empire connotations were dropped in 1967, when the airline became Qantas Airways Ltd – and it’s still the official full name, although hardly anyone uses it. See qantas.com.au

blank blue

2FYM70F Virgin Blue Boeing 737-76N jet plane at RAAF base Williamtown NSW in 2010 - Virgin Blue renamed Virgin Australia from 2011 Credit: Alamy single use for travelers only CHARGES APPLY

A Virgin Blue Boeing 737-76N at the RAAF base in Williamtown, NSW in 2010. Photo: Rebecca Citroni / Alamy Stock Photo

In retrospect, giving an airline a joke name probably isn’t a brilliant idea. When Virgin Blue launched in 2000, the name was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the plane’s red livery. The more corporate rebranding as Virgin Australia came in 2011, after the frankly confusing launches of sister airlines Pacific Blue, Polynesian Blue and V Australia created a marketing mess. See virginaustralia.com

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