The biggest airlines in the U.S. have begun to comply with a demand from Chinese aviation officials that independent regions such as Taiwan be referred on airline route maps and booking websites as part of China.
The demand was made in May by the Civil Aviation Administration of China, and so far, at least 20 carriers, including Air Canada, British Airways and Lufthansa, have complied by referring to Taiwan as part of China on their global websites — not as an independent region.
China claims democratic Taiwan as part of its territory even though the two have been ruled separately since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s. The White House has called the demand by China “Orwellian nonsense.”
As of Wednesday morning, American Airlines was the first of the biggest carriers in the U.S. to eliminate the name “Taiwan” from its route map, listing only the two airports American Airlines serves on the island, Taipei and Kaohsiung. The airline’s drop-down menu still lists “Taiwan” when booking flights to those airports.
“Like other carriers, American is implementing changes to address China’s request,” American Airlines spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said. “Air travel is global business, and we abide by the rules in countries where we operate.”
American Airlines had requested a 60-day extension — until Wednesday — from the Chinese order.
Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have both issued statements, suggesting that they also plan to comply with China’s demand.
“U.S. carriers including Delta are in the process of implementing website changes in response to the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s request, and we will remain in close consultation with the U.S. Government throughout this process,” Delta said.
United Airlines released a similar statement:
“United Airlines has begun to roll out changes to its systems to address China’s requirements. United abides by and respects local laws and regulations in all markets and jurisdictions where we operate and conduct business. United flights to mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan will continue to operate normally.”
To read more about the travel and tourism industries, follow @hugomartin on Twitter.