Looking at airline names such as "Alaska Airlines", "American Airlines", "United Airlines" made me wonder: why airlines and not airline, since an airline is defined as "an organization providing a regular public service of air transportation on one or more routes" according to Oxford Languages. E.g., why not "Alaska Airline"? I don't recall seeing any company using airline in their company name.

  • Because these airline companies have more than one flight/destination? One direct route (a line) to New York, one to Dallas, one to South Carolina etc.? merriam-webster.com/dictionary/…
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 26, 2023 at 10:43
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA, on the other hand we speak of Lufthansa (say) as an airline (singular).
    – Peter
    Commented Feb 26, 2023 at 11:23
  • 1
    Each company mentioned in the OP is an airline but Lufthansa doesn't have the word arline/s in their name. AIRFRANCE doesn't have airline in its name, probably because like Lufthansa it is not a US airline.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 26, 2023 at 11:38
  • If each company I mentioned is an airline, why the plural in their company names? Commented Feb 26, 2023 at 17:56
  • I previously mentioned that each airline offered more than one route (airline) ergo airlines (routes). The term airline, meaning air transportation, is not going to exist prior the 1930s-40s, so the Ngram plotting airline peaking in the 1980s shows the frequency of usage. Why does that support the answer [company] airline vs [company]airlines?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 26, 2023 at 19:38

1 Answer 1


Reddit user anon-honeybee pointed me to community.infiniteflight.com, where anon31652286 provided the following answer:

Well “airline” has become a normal term for us to use now. When airlines were founded, using “airlines” and “airways” would have been more related to the routes the carrier flies. Hence some airlines were called “Air Lines”.

books.google.com/ngrams indicates that the term airline was rather new when these companies were created, and the term "air line" is older:

enter image description here

You must log in to answer this question.

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