Taiwan’s China Airlines is considering changing its name in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In a social media post on April 11th, Taiwan’s Minister of Transportation and Communications indicated that there is the possibility for the carrier to alter its name. Although, this would be a pretty significant change.
China Airlines could change its name
As reported in the Taiwan News, since February, a number of organizations have petitioned to change the airline’s name to reduce any connotations between the carrier and mainland China. In a nudge towards the airline, Taiwan’s Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung has indicated that he would be open to working with the airline on changing its name as outlined in a Facebook post:
Translated, the post reads,
“I still remember that the special plane of China Airlines carried Taiwanese people back to Taiwan carrying the Diamond Princess, and the moving of the plane into the hangar was moved.
“Wuhan’s pneumonia epidemic impacted and air traffic plummeted, but our #Sky National Team is still on the front line, shouldering the task of taking the Chinese home.
“When there was more than enough money in Taiwan, they once again acted as our diplomatic envoys and sent the loving masks of Taiwanese to other countries safely. The efforts of China Airlines deserve our recognition.
“During the pneumonia in Wuhan, there were many voices that we hoped that China Airlines could change its name. We are open to this. However, the name change of airlines is a big deal, involving air rights and routes, and China Airlines is a listed company. Expect society to continue to build consensus.”
One of the concerns with the current name is the confusion it could bring about geographically. There is a possibility that potential customers will shy away from the airline because it makes it seem as if the carrier is from mainland China. When it comes to some of the relief and humanitarian missions the carrier has flown, Taiwan is eager to make it clear that it is coming from them and not mainland China. In addition, it would also help separate the carrier from mainland China where the coronavirus pandemic originated.
Could China Airlines become Taiwan Airlines?
Taiwan’s official name is the Republic of China (mainland China’s official name is the People’s Republic of China). As the national carrier for Taiwan, China Airlines was a conscious choice derived from the island’s official name. However, more people are familiar with the name Taiwan.
A switch to Taiwan Airlines would hold the same meaning that China Airlines does. National airlines often carry the name of the country they represent (Air India, Air Canada, Air France, Aeromexico, etc.). As Taiwan Airlines, the carrier would bring about greater awareness of the geographic hub for the airline while also representing Taiwan globally.
What does a name change involve?
Unlike launching a new livery, an airline name change is a lot of work. Slots, overflight permissions, leasing agreements, alliance agreements, stock listings and more are currently under the name of China Airlines. For the carrier to change its name, it would require a complex alteration of numerous agreements.
What is the precedent?
A number of airlines have changed their names in the past. This includes airlines like the now-defunct Midwest Airlines which formerly was Midwest Express. Air Canada was initially founded as Trans-Canada Air Lines and United Airlines was initially founded as Varney Air Lines. Although, in recent years, name changes have been rare and a number have come about as a result of mergers.
China Airlines is Taiwan’s national carrier flying mainly out of Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport. The airline is a member of the Skyteam alliance. According to the carrier’s website, there are 88 aircraft in the airline’s fleet composed of the following:
- 14 Airbus A350-900s
- 23 Airbus A330-300s
- 10 Boeing 777-300ERs
- 4 Boeing 747-400s
- 19 Boeing 737-800s
- 18 Boeing 747-400 Freighters
The airline also has 25 Airbus A321neo aircraft on order for its future narrowbody aircraft fleet.
China Airlines is mulling a name change. Taiwan’s Minister of Transportation and Communication is open to the possibility of changing the airline’s name in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. This move would likely help distinguish the Taiwanese airline from mainland China and reduce connections between the two entities. However, a name change is still a ways away and would require a lot of careful planning and execution.
Do you think China Airlines should change its name? What should the new airline be called? Let us know in the comments!