Taiwan’s China Airlines is considering changing its name amidst coronavirus pandemic.
In a Facebook post released on Saturday, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) stated he has an “open mind” toward calls to change CAL’s name amid the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, he said that a name change is a major decision involving aviation rights and routes.
He wrote that because CAL is a listed company, it needs to respect the views of both its shareholders and Taiwan’s people. Lin stated that he hopes that the community can build a consensus on the proposal.
As reported in the Taiwan News, on Feb. 3, pro-Taiwan independence group Taiwan Republic Office (台灣國辦公室) called for the airline’s name to be changed to “Formosa Airlines” (福爾摩沙航空) or “Yushan Airlines” (玉山航空). Similarly, on Feb. 20, the Taiwanese American Senior Society – East Bay & Washington DC launched a petition on the U.S. website Change.org calling for the name of the national carrier to be changed to “Taiwan Airlines.”
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 may it as if the carrier is from mainland China. When it comes to some of the relief flights and humanitarian 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.
Lin pointed out that many people had been moved by the CAL charter flight on Feb. 21, which rescued 19 Taiwanese passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. He wrote that although air traffic volume has plummeted, crews of the nation’s carrier are on the front lines, shouldering the burden of bringing Taiwanese home.
He wrote that as Taiwan begins to generate a surplus of medical supplies, the airline is serving as the nation’s diplomatic envoy as it sends Taiwan-made masks around the world. “The efforts of China Airlines deserve our recognition,” Lin.