American Airlines revises website to change Taiwan reference

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O) late on Tuesday confirmed it had changed how its website refers to Taiwan, a move expected to be followed by two other major U.S. carriers by Wednesday 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’s website late on Tuesday 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 U.S. requests for talks on the matter, adding to tension in relations already frayed by an escalating trade conflict.

Hawaiian Airlines (HA.O) 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 (UAL.N) and Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) still included references to Taiwan as of late Tuesday, according to checks of their websites.

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

Numerous non-U.S. airlines including Air Canada (AC.TO), Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) and British Airways (ICAG.L) 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.

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