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China Airlines Hints at New Taiwan-Themed Livery with Boeing 777F Delivery
Taiwanese carrier China Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing 777F cargo jet on Tuesday. Upon arrival at Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport, however, the cargo jet was not carrying China Airlines’ normal livery, but instead, it featured a nearly blank livery. The carrier’s name only appears in small font near the cargo jet’s empennage.
Taiwanese media and close sources with the airline have confirmed that the Taiwanese carrier has plans to display Taiwan-related symbols on its fuselage as part of Taiwan’s efforts to draw a clearer distinction between Taiwan and China. The aircraft, registered B-18771, was the first of six 777Fs ordered by China Airlines and will replace its older fleet of Boeing 747-400 freighter aircraft being flown on routes to Europe and North America.
According to Taiwanese media, China Airlines reportedly has intentions to display its name in a smaller font and replace its entire fleet livery with Taiwan-themed images to avoid confusion with Chinese airlines. The airline has often been confused with Air China — the Chinese government-owned carrier — at international destinations. On diplomatic missions, and when delivering Taiwan’s donations of medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline was often mistaken for being associated with China.
Although China Airlines has declined to make public its plans to redesign the aircraft livery, saying only that the information would be made available at the proper time, it responded to inquiries about the blank aircraft fuselage. The airline explained that the Boeing 777F freighter aircraft is still in the flight test phase and that its new appearance would be revealed to the public later.
Taiwan’s Transportation Minister, Chia-lung Lin, has confirmed that “distinctive symbols” of Taiwan will be added to the Boeing 777F freighter aircraft. Lin also confirmed that official announcements would be made once the plane has been fully emblazoned with those features.
Hurdles Beyond Aviation
Taiwan officially refers to itself as the Republic of China and claims to be an independent country. It does operate autonomously and is recognized by fifteen states. China — officially named the People’s Republic of China — still sees Taiwan as a breakaway province.
Taiwan has taken major efforts this year to avoid misrepresentation with China. In July, Taiwanese officials approved a proposal for rebranding China Airlines. Many proponents advised renaming the airline. However, the Taiwanese government is concerned that doing so would anger China and negatively impact Taiwan’s air freedom privileges.
Also in August, Taiwanese officials unveiled a new passport design to stop confusion between its nationals and citizens of China. In the new passport, the word “Taiwan” is significantly larger and bolder, and the words “Republic of China,” have been eliminated. The Chinese characters for “Republic of China” still remain, albeit smaller than on the first version.
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