If you’re a frequent flyer, you’ll be familiar with the concept of airport codes. Normally they are based on the letters of the city’s name. For example, AMS is Amsterdam, Madrid is MAD, Barcelona is BCN, Brussels is BRU… So why then is Malaga AGP? It really doesn’t follow any pattern.
It probably comes as little surprise to hear that there are several colourful urban legends about the origins of the code. Some of them are more popular than the truth, in fact.
One suggests that AGP stands for Aeropuerto Gran Picasso. Plausible. Another is that the airport is named after the Roman empress Agrippina. Interesting! But no… the truth is much more boring and technical than that.
When the International Air Transport Association (IATA) went to give the airport its code, it found that many of the more obvious choices has already been taken by other airports: MLG belonged to Malange, Indonesia; MAL refers to Mangole, also in Indonesia; MGA refers to Managua, the capital of Nicaragua; and even MAG had already been assigned to Madang in Papua New Guinea.
Instead, the IATA decided to take two letters from the city’s name, “AG” and add a third letter to create a completely different code in order to prevent confusion with other international airports. Ultimately, the letter that was found to create a code that fulfilled all the criteria was “P”.
See, I told you it was boring…