Taiwan Lawmakers Approve Proposal To Rename China Airlines

China Airlines
Credit: Joe Pries

Taiwan’s parliament has passed a proposal to rename and rebrand its flag-carrier China Airlines to prevent further confusion with mainland Chinese airlines.

According to Taiwan News, the proposal calls for the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to come up with a phased plan to rename China Airlines. It said the first few phases should “mainly focus on a redesign of the aircraft’s livery”—and should not involve negotiations on the change of aviation rights—to emphasize “Taiwan” in the design.

It also called for ideas to appropriately change its Chinese and English names. 

Although a long-underlying issue, fresh calls to change China Airlines’ name began amid the COVID-19 crisis after Taiwan sent medical aid around the world on its flag-carrier only for its actions to be mistaken by media as a gesture from China.

 Alternative names for the airline—including Formosa, a previous name for Taiwan, or Yushan, the name of Taiwan’s highest mountain—have been suggested by a local political party.  

China Airlines has used the name since its establishment in 1959. Because of diplomatic issues the airline removed the Taiwanese flag from its livery in 1995, replacing it with the current plum blossom livery. Confusion with Air China started when the mainland’s Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) Airlines was split into Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines in 1988. 

China has viewed Taiwan as a rogue state and wants to unify the territory one day. However, Taiwan—currently ruled by a pro-independent government—sees itself as an independent state and not part of the “One China” policy Beijing has been pushing.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.