Holy city desperate to ditch GAY airport code

Lily Wakefield February 6, 2022
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family in an airport

India's parliament is trying to change the GAY airport code for Gaya airport. (Envato)

Gaya airport in New Delhi, India, is desperate to lose its GAY airport code because of its status as a holy city, with a parliamentary panel branding it “inappropriate”.

In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Gaya is the place where where Rama, Sita and Lakshmana went to give an offering to Dasharath, and is a major Hindu pilgrimage site.

Gaya is also a holy city for the religions of Jainism and Buddhism, with the Mahabodhi Temple, a world heritage site, said to be where the Buddha gained enlightenment.

But for the parliament of India, Gaya’s religious significance means that its airport should not be referred to as GAY.

It has been over a year since the first parliamentary report from the Committee on Public Undertakings attempting to amend the airport code was tabled, according The Economic Times, but lawmakers are still desperate to make the change.

On Friday, 4 February, another report was tabled, in which the International Air Transport Association (IATA) code was branded “inappropriate, unsuitable, offensive and embarrassing”.

Suggesting the code YAG as an alternative, a parliamentary panel begged the government to “make all effort to take up the matter with the IATA and concerned organisation as the issue involves inappropriate code naming of an airport of a holy city of our country”.

But the civil aviation ministry confirmed that Air India had already raised the matter with the IATA, and that codes are permanent unless there is a serious safety concern.

It said: “Gaya airport IATA code GAY has been in use since operationalisation of Gaya airstrip. Hence, without a justifiable reason primarily concerning air safety, IATA has expressed its inability to change the IATA code of Gaya airport.”

For now, Gaya will remain unique as a holy city and pilgrimage site with the gayest airport in the world.

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