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Airline Domains: TAM Airlines doesn’t own

TAM Airlines (TAM) is the largest airline in Brazil, and has been expanding operations. They used to compete with Varig in Brazil, which owns as well as, the Brazilian equivalent, and GOL. Airline web sites are notoriously badly configured for SEO, and these are not exceptions, but TAM airlines doesn’t even own For a major airlines, this is very unusual.

American Airlines naturally owns British Airways secured Japan Airlines, known as JAL, naturally owns They also own the necessary variants of their names, such as, and

Looking further, Dutch airline KLM of course secured, their natural domain. Northwest Airlines can be found at Even South American airline Lan Airline has secured for itself, which must have been difficult given the generic value of LAN in the computer field (local area network — the domain surely had very high value). Truth is, if you are competing in the global travel space, you simply MUST secure your brand as the customer perceives it. Most airlines know that.

The Polish airline LOT Polish Airlines owns, another strong generic domain that had high value to others. LOT knows the value of that domain as a brand. Delta Airlines is found at, despite hundreds of non-airline businesses operating under strong Delta trademarks. Continental Airlines owns, even though there are very major companies in other industries also operating with the name “Continental”. Why do you think Continental Airlines owns it? If you are a serious airline, you simply must own your name, no? If you visit a page of the Airline Blog that covers Brazil, you will see numerous contextual ads from travel agents and travel companies putting the TAM brand right in front of the consumers. Do they know the value of the TAM brand more than TAM airlines?

So TAM Airlines doesn’t know this? Or maybe doesn’t care. I would find it very hard to believe that the IT systems company near “Mount Tam” in California, the current registrant of, would hold out for a higher price than a major International Airline could afford for an exact-match, 3 letter dot com. I don’t know the owner of so I can’t be sure, but seriously… if went for just over 2 million, how could a 3 letter exact match for a significant International airline be too expensive to buy out from a small IT company? The online Pizza business last year was billion$ strong, and expected to double in the near term. Anyone could launch into that revenue stream immediately with a 2+ million dollar purchase of THE generic domain in that market. That’s less than the cost of producing a SuperBowl ad, and there was no trademark at risk. For TAM Airlines, with an exact trademark match as well as a consumer brand match across languages, it must be worth buying, no?

United Airlines owns, as we would expect although honestly I would not be surprised to learn someone else owned since it is so generic and such a common trade moniker. Yet, United Airlines owns it. Smart move, or simply an essential necessity? Southwest Airlines owns Swiss International Airlines owns Spain’s Iberia Airlines owns I personally know 2 restaurants in high-tech neighborhoods with that name. There’s no way the name wasn’t an early target for many companies. The United Arab Emirates airline “Emirates” is, of course, at Australia’s Qantas Airways owns, of course, right? They were also smart enough to get, which is how I know them because my language doesn’t like Q’s without associated U’s.

Like I said I don’t know the TAM Airlines people nor the registrant, but I think this expose of TAM airline’s sloppiness is a good reminder that companies should research their brand situations today, rather than tomorrow. I’m betting a handful of domain investors will call the current owner of now, looking to bet that it has unrealized potential.

We have a joke here in our offices about domain name valuation. When a client says “We don’t have our brand as a domain name, but we want to try to acquire it. How much is it worth?” the only answer we can give is “We can’t say for sure, but it’s worth more today than it was yesterday“.


  1. Jorge wrote:

    After reading this I checked our own airline here in Portugal, “TAP”. They also use “Air Portugal”. “” is taken by a pharmaceutical company and “” is parked, and also “”. The had to use “”. How much will they pay for this stupid mistake? We’ll never know.

    @jorge: TAP pharmaceutical was very progressive when it started, so no surprise they got and held on to But now that the brand assets are revering to Takeda, maybe TAP should be pursuing the domain? (No, that’s not an earthquake. That’s the sound of hundreds of domain brokers running to call Takeda). Then again, if TAP Airlines hasn’t got the guts to buy or even from domain investors, I doubt they will pony up for There’s an idea… a domain broker should build that portfolio and package it as a can’t resist package for TAP airlines.

    Monday, June 16, 2008 at 6:43 am | Permalink
  2. Gemme wrote:

    I was on holiday last week and one of the added perks was that I could watch tv channels beyond the Chinese CCTV boredom.

    Watching CNN, there was an often displayed ad for the Intercontinental bank from Nigeria.

    From what I checked an actual bank and not part of the Nigerian scams which they actually warn for on their homepage.

    Their domain name unfortunately is In this case owning their own name as a domain would definitely help with their trustworthiness

    Monday, June 16, 2008 at 6:40 pm | Permalink
  3. Ben wrote:

    What about, that’s appauling.

    Sunday, June 29, 2008 at 12:50 pm | Permalink