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