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Airlines cave to China's Taiwan name demand

A traveler checks in for their flight at the American Airlines check-in counters at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing. Source: AAP

American Airlines have joined other major airlines in changing how its website refers to Taiwan in order to avoid Chinese penalties.

American Airlines has confirmed it has changed how its website refers to Taiwan, a move expected to be followed by two other major US carriers in an effort to avoid Chinese penalties.

Reuters reported earlier on Tuesday that the three major carriers were set to change how their websites refer to Taiwanese airports.

A check of American Airlines' website showed it now only lists Taipei's airport code and city, but not the name Taiwan.

Beijing has demanded that foreign firms, and airlines in particular, not refer to Taiwan as non-Chinese territory on their websites, a move described by the White House in May as "Orwellian nonsense."

China set a final deadline of July 25 for the changes, and last month rejected US requests for talks on the matter, adding to tension in relations already frayed by an escalating trade conflict.

"Like other carriers, American is implementing changes to address China's request," American Airlines spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said late on Tuesday. "Air travel is a global business, and we abide by the rules in countries where we operate."

Hawaiian Airlines had changed its website ahead of the deadline to showing searches for flights to Taiwan's capital Taipei as "Taipei, Taipei" in dropdown menus, Reuters reported on Tuesday morning.


United Airlines and Delta Air Lines Inc still included references to Taiwan as of late Tuesday, according to checks of their websites.

The US State Department and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment late on Tuesday.

Numerous non-US airlines including Air Canada, Lufthansa and British Airways had already made changes to their websites, according to Reuters checks, after China's Civil Aviation Administration sent a letter to 36 foreign air carriers earlier in the year.