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Taiwan considers rebranding its flag carrier, China Airlines

Jack Burton

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Taiwan considers rebranding its flag carrier, China Airlines | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikicommons
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Taipei is considering changing the name of its flag carrier: China Airlines. Perhaps an opportunistic excuse to distance itself from any anti-Chinese ‘Covid’ fallout or just a political ploy whilst China has, well, other things to worry about at the moment.

It seems the Covid-19 pandemic has reignited calls to change the name after the airline sent a series of cargo flights to deliver medical supplies to assist in coronavirus aid efforts around the world. Despite its proximity to the mainland, Taiwan has reported fewer than 400 confirmed coronavirus cases, and netizens on the island are concerned that people will associate the airline with mainland China, not Taiwan, due to its name. And officials at the carrier don’t appear opposed to the idea of the change either.

“Recently, the public has expressed various diverse and lively opinions on the company. Due to the wide range of issues involved, the company has started internal discussions and research with an open attitude.”

China Airlines was founded in Taiwan in 1959 and serves 160 destinations in 29 countries. The majority shareholder is the China Aviation Development Foundation, wholly owned by the Taiwanese government.

The People’s Republic of China considers Taiwan a renegade province. Taiwan’s official name is the “Republic of China”, which was founded in 1911 on the mainland after the collapse of China’s last imperial dynasty, and fled to Taiwan after the 1949 Communist revolution.

Tuesday, Taiwan’s premier responded to public calls for a name change during a media briefing in Taipei.

“The issue of changing China Airlines’ name is not that simple. But distinguishing Taiwan is indeed something that should be done, and the government will do it step by step.”

His comments follow a Facebook post on Saturday from Taiwan’s Minister of Transportation and Communications, who suggested he’d be open to working with the airline on a name change, though he acknowledged they would require a public consensus to go through with it.

A petition requesting the name change was initiated two months ago on Change.org. As of yesterday, it had more than 50,000 signatures.

“It makes sense to pursue this now”

One Singapore-based aviation analyst says that, should the name change actually get the green light, “it wouldn’t be that difficult to implement.”

“You can change your brand name without necessarily changing the name of the parent company or your legal corporate name.”

“That would allow the airline to avoid complications relating to issues like leasing agreements and airport slots, but it is still a big undertaking from a marketing perspective.”

In fact, he says, now might be an ideal time to go through with it, as airlines restructure and adapt in the coming months.

“This provides an interesting window for China Airlines to change its name or brand as it looks at other potential strategic adjustments… it makes sense to pursue this now.”

China considers Taiwan an integral part of its territory, and comes down hard on any suggestions to the contrary, even where aviation is concerned.

In 2018, China demanded global airlines change how they refer to Taiwan on their websites or face sanctions. In response, the White House issued a scathing statement criticising Beijing for pressuring US carriers and other companies on the issue.

But in the end, multiple airlines, including American Airlines and Delta, complied.

SOURCE: CNN

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Jack Burton is a writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. He attended the Henry Grady School of Journalism and his works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world.

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Politics

Opposition criticises Thai government over economic toll of Covid response

May Taylor

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Opposition criticises Thai government over economic toll of Covid response | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AFP

Opposition party Pheu Thai has condemned the government’s management of the Covid-19 crisis, saying total shutdown has had a devastating effect on the country’s economy. In a report in Nation Thailand, Paopoom Rojanasakul, vice secretary-general of the party says the hard-hitting restrictions imposed across the country have led to high unemployment, with the International Monetary Fund saying Thailand’s economy is the worst-affected in the region.

He adds that the IMF is predicting the economy here will shrink by 6.7%, saying Thailand has one of the world’s most negative GDP forecasts, despite appearing to have brought the virus under control quite quickly.

“The question that arises is, if Thailand has controlled the outbreak quicker than the other others, why is its economy worse hit than the others?”

Paopoom says the decision to essentially shut down the economy in the early stages of the outbreak is what caused the damage, not simply the fact that economic performance is dependent on the global economy as a whole. Pheu Thai says the government must act now to stop businesses from going under and to save jobs, saying the government got it wrong when it allowed employers to terminate their workers’ positions.

The party says employers should receive financial incentives to encourage them to keep their staff employed. Paopoom adds that what’s required is a policy of balanced measures that keep the economy running at the same time as the virus is being brought under control.

“The winner of this battle is a balanced state that can control the outbreak while also sustaining the economy until the world has a vaccine.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Politics

Thai Airways to lay off 30% of its staff

Jack Burton

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Thai Airways to lay off 30% of its staff | The Thaiger
PHOTO: ABS CBN News

“THAI will stop repaying all debt and start from scratch.”

The government announced today that Thai Airways will have to dismiss more than 6,000 employees after entering into receivership proceedings and a debt moratorium of 200 billion baht. The Cabinet decided to push Thai Airways into a bankruptcy procedure under the Bankruptcy Act and ordered the Ministry of Finance to relinquish their majority stake in the airline, thus stripping it of its state-enterprise status and enabling the proceeding under civil law.

A spokesman said the troubled national flag carrier, which racked up billions of baht in losses for years, will “stop repaying all debt and start from scratch”. 30% of its more than 20,000 employees, or some 6,000 people, are to be dismissed. They will receive 10 months salary as compensation as per the Thai labour laws.

Sources say the ‘rehabilitation’ of the airline could take at least one year. The bankruptcy must be declared in the US as well as in Thailand to avoid planes being seized or other asset forfeiture.

Yesterday it was reported that Airbus were chasing repayments for some of the leased planes. But today Airbus denied local reports that it had notified the airline of debts the struggling carrier owes for 30 rented aircraft, according to Nation Thailand.

The 53 Airbus aircraft used by Thai Airways includes six Airbus A380-800,12 A350-900s, 15 A330-300s and 20 A320-200s.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Bangkok

Temple closes to mark decade since redshirt crackdown

Caitlin Ashworth

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Temple closes to mark decade since redshirt crackdown | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Khaosod English

A Bangkok temple, where 6 people were shot and killed by the military during the 2010 “redshirt” political protests, has closed during the tragic event’s 10 year anniversary.

A sign was put in front of Wat Pathum Wanaram saying it was closed for “disinfection,” according to Khaosod. But many see the significance of the closure relating to the events a decade ago.

On May 19, 2010, 6 people taking refugee inside the temple were killed by soldiers. 5 of them were killed from troops who shot from the BTS skytrain rail track. 3 of the deceased were volunteer medics.

The temple was designated as a “safe zone” during the government crackdown of redshirt protests calling for an election and for parliament to be dissolved. The protests started around February of 2010 until the government crackdown in May that year.

94 people were killed during the crackdown, and the Bangkok Posts says most of them were redshirt supporters. The Post says 7 soldiers and 2 foreign reporters were also killed in the violence. In 2013, the court found that 6 victims at the temple were shot by troops, but they were unable to identify the soldiers.

SOURCES: Khaosod English | Bangkok Post| Bangkok Post

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