Taiwan lawmakers have approved a proposal to rename national carrier China Airlines, paving the way for a possible rebranding. 

The proposal, first mooted by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party caucus, calls on the island’s transport ministry to study and propose a phased plan to “strengthen China Airlines’ international recognition,” which will also help advance Taiwan’s interests. 

The proposal, first raised in the Taiwanese Legislative Yuen in April, also suggests an initial livery redesign that would emphasise the Taiwan name, but not affect the carrier’s air traffic rights. 

The 64 lawmakers present at the sitting all voted in favour of the proposal, allowing it to be handed over to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications for implementation. 

No timeline on the process has been given by the lawmakers, who add that more discussions would be needed to come up with a feasible approach to a thorough rebranding. 

The long-simmering debate on whether to rename China Airlines was thrust back into the spotlight amid the coronavirus outbreak, when the SkyTeam carrier mounted several freighter flights to parts of the world in April, to deliver medical supplies to assist in coronavirus aid efforts. 

Taiwanese media reports suggested 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. 

China Airlines told FlightGlobal in April that it was studying the proposals for renaming “with an open mind”.