Taiwan is open to renaming national carrier China Airlines, but stressed that it was up to the airline — and the flying public — to ultimately decide.
Minister for Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung was the latest — and possibly the highest-ranking government official — to weigh in on the matter.
On Facebook, Lin says his ministry has an “open mind” to changing the SkyTeam carrier’s name, but notes that “because [the carrier] is a listed company, [we] need to respect the shareholders’ and public’s opinions”.
Lin adds that changing an airline’s name also involves air traffic rights and routes, and called for “consensus” on the matter.
China Airlines, responding to FlightGlobal’s queries, says the matter is being studied internally.
”China Airlines has received various vibrant opinions regarding the subject recently. Such subject involves tremendous phases of implication, it is now in the process of being studied and discussed internally with an open mind,” the carrier states.
The issue of renaming the national carrier was thrust back into the spotlight in recent days after it mounted freighter flights to parts of the world to deliver medical supplies to assist in coronavirus aid efforts. The first shipment of masks bound for the European Union arrived in Luxembourg on 9 April, with more deliveries following in subsequent days.
Taiwanese media reports suggest that because the airline’s name had “China” in it, it would lead to confusion as to whether these donations came from the People’s Republic of China, or Taiwan.
China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province which it has vowed to retake, by force if necessary.
Several pro-independence lawmakers in Taiwan have backed calls to rename China Airlines, according to media reports. Some have suggested “Chunghwa Airlines”, a romanised spelling of the airline’s mandarin name.
The latest discussion reignites an earlier debate over China Airlines’ name. In February, as the pandemic grew in magnitude, the Taiwanese American Senior Society - East Bay & Washington DC launched a petition urging the Taiwanese authorities to change its name to Taiwan Airlines.
Media reports also indicate pro-independence groups calling in February for the airline’s name to be changed to Formosa Airlines or Yushan Airlines.
This story has been updated with China Airlines’ response.