City leaders have scrapped plans to do away with the Sioux Gateway Airport's unflattering three-letter identifier — SUX — and instead have made it the centerpiece of the airport's new marketing campaign.

The code, used by pilots and airports worldwide and printed on tickets and luggage tags, will be used on T-shirts and caps sporting the airport's new slogan, "FLY SUX." It also forms the address of the airport's redesigned Web site — www.flysux.com.

Sioux City officials petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration to change the code in 1988 and 2002. At one point, the FAA offered the city five alternatives — GWU, GYO, GYT, SGV and GAY — but airport trustees turned them down.

Airport board member Dave Bernstein proposed embracing the identifier.

"Let's make the best of it," Bernstein said. "I think we have the opportunity to turn it into a positive."

He noted that many airports, including some of the busiest, have forgettable three-letter codes.

"I've got buddies that I went to college with in different cities that can't even remember their own birthdays, but they all know the Sioux City designator — SUX," he said.

Mayor Craig Berenstein, who in 2002 described SUX as an "embarrassment" to the city, said he views the new slogan as a "cute little way" to make light of the situation.