United Airways Airbus A310

United Airways Airbus A310 with a clear "United" on the left side.

What’s in a name — a lot. Imagine you started an airline in 1926; one of the first in the world. You were uniting other airlines under one umbrella and came up with the name “United Air Lines.” Time marches on, but the name stays (mostly) the same. Other airlines are bought out, mergers happen and United Airlines becomes the world’s largest airline with 48,000 employees and operating about 3,300 flights per day. Now that is a big monster of an airline.

In 2005, while United Airlines was still a large airline, another airline was started in Bangladesh. When starting a new airline, there are a lot of choices when coming up with a name. Many people like to add the word “Air” to the location that the airline is based and call it a day. Unfortunately Air Bangladesh was an airline just going out of business at the time, so now what? United Airways!

For some reason this new airline decided to go with a name that sounds mighty familiar: United Airways. Just try to Google the airline’s website — even with quotes around United Airways gets me nothing. All that comes up is United Airlines. To finally find the website you have to search “United Airways Bangladesh” to get to their site.

According to Flight Global, United Airlines claimed that United Airways had violated their trademark and on June 24th a UK court ruled in favor of United Airlines. The court has demanded that United Airways change their brand and re-paint their aircraft with-in 35 days.

The livery and colors of United Airways are different enough from United Airlines, but just writing this post shows a major problem. Most of the time “United Airlines” is written as just “United” and people know what airline you are referring to. On the United Airway’s livery they have “United” printed on the left side of each aircraft, really causing some issues.

This could be a good opportunity for United Airways to change their brand before they get bigger. They have grown to a fleet of seven aircraft (two MD-83s, two ATR-72s, two Dash8s and one Airbus A310) and fly to international destinations in the Middle East and Europe.

This is not to say that United Airways isn’t a successful airline — probably their success is part of the problem. Around the world airlines come and go, but since it seems like this airline might survive, it is probably time for them to come up with a unique name.

Is this a story of big ‘ol bad United Airlines going after a smaller unknown airline? I do not think so. United Airlines spends a lot of money on their brand and it makes sense to defend it. Sometimes airlines can go a bit too far defending their name (I am talking to you ex-Northwest Airlines/Delta), but this case seems worth while.

Currently, United Airlines is not talking about the situation and an email to United Airways has yet to be answered.

Photo by Josh May via Airliners.net
used with permission

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: [email protected]

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12 Comments

They ought to move to the USA and start up an airline to compete with Spirit Airlines, call it Buzzard Air and charge people to look at their planes..

Dorothy

I like the logo on the tail – many hands of different colors! Best wishes to the underdog.

R Lopaka

What about….China United Airlines?

Your reasoning is arbitrary. It also shows a markedly obvious bias towards United Airlines – especially if one reads the article you highlighted about Delta. BTW, it’s Delta Air Lines, not Delta Airlines. It’s hard to give any weight so a writer who can’t get the spelling of a major international air carrier correct. Especially when one is trying to come off as some sort of ‘expert’.

Hello Bill,

I am not really sure how you can say my reasons are arbitrary where there are plenty of court cases in the US and around the world that protects a company’s brand.

As far as Delta, I am not sure what article you are referring to. I know that Delta is Delta Air Lines and make every effort to do it correctly. If I ever make a mistake (which typing “airlines” as one word so often — it does happen), I am always happy to correct it.

Thanks for reading,

David

Guessing the victor is not a hard task at all.
It is an obvious issue of trademark violation. The intruder has to come up with a non-violating name and withdraw from the scene.
Away from resolving the issue, what could be the reason for United Airways to use a detonatable name like that?
Is United Airways aware of branding issues and their importance in today’s marketplace?
Did they think of the cost of repainting their fleet?
I would say that they thought that the name would give the airline the initial momentum needed to help it during the early stage of operation. So the question is – did they manage to use the name of the humongous rival to their advantage? Did they achieve enough profit to pay for the repainting job and the possible monetary compensation payable to United Airlines?

Who knows what United Airways was thinking. I tried to talk to them, but never heard back. They could have thought their airline would remain so small it wouldn’t matter, but now they have grown.

David

R Lopaka

Gee,Maybe 80+ year old United Airlines should change their name.Duhhh!!!

I am surprised United Airlines would bother going to all this trouble. I fail to see how United in Bangladesh could ever impact on the profits in any way of the gigantic “UA”

Happen to be past once just about every pal considers they have hook favourable position above the other sorts of.
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Joe Choudhury

Sadly, I am a primary founder of the nameless airline.
Being a pilot for over thirty years at the time, me and a cousin, I had involved in light aircraft many years ago, eventually started to chat about the impossible task of creating a domestic airline to aid the huge problems of internal transport within that small country.
We eventually raised enough interest ffrom expat friends and other businessmen in the UK to put an application forward, and eventually granted the required operators certificates.
Initially, our board sat to decide on the name of our newly formed airline, amongst the million and one far more important issues to be felt with. Despite the hundred and one names put forward, by the team of investors/directors, the self imposed (boss) would hear nothing but his own selection United Airways (bd) Ltd, which I thought, in this day and age, is what my grandfather might have chose seventy years back. But he was adamant, and said most of the successful businesses in the country were titled ‘United’ something or the other. Along with a glut of nodding sheep, I was neighhhhed at by the board.
Little did they understand that with the costs involved in maintaining a successful airline, especially in such a tiny country, with a maximum 30 minutes flight time from the base to any domestic city would leave us bankrupt within two years, if not sooner (just like Royal Bengal that started just after us).
In fact, to start an airline one must first prove its viability by operating domestically for a year, after which it could or would be given permission to operate internationally.
There lies the problem! It then came back and bit us where it hurts. I told them so, but all I got back was…if they tried to make us change our name, then the United Kingdom should make the United Stated change theirs.
Yeah!!! CAN WE GUESS THE VICTOR.

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