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By Byron Kaye
SYDNEY, June 4 (Reuters) - Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd said on Monday it plans to change its website to refer to Taiwan as a Chinese territory, not an independent nation, but it needed extra time to comply with the request from Beijing.
China’s aviation regulator in April gave three dozen airlines a May 25 deadline to remove references on their websites or in other material that suggest Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are part of countries independent from China, a move described by White House as “Orwellian nonsense”.
Qantas and some other airlines requested at the time a extention to decide how they would respond.
At the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual meeting on Monday, Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said his company planned to comply with the request, although the company needed extra time.
“Our intention is to meet the requirements. It is just taking time to get there,” Joyce told journalists on the sidelines of the meeting.
The CEO of Qantas’s international unit, Alison Webster, said the decision was not influenced by Qantas’s partnership with China Eastern Airlines Corp.
“I don’t think the relationship makes any difference to how we review our response,” Webster said.
She said Qantas only needed extra time to make the change because “we have some complexity to work through”.
“This is not just Qantas Airways, this is the Qantas group that has to be adjusted,” she said. Due to the technology behind Qantas’s websites, “it takes some time for us to get to grips with changes that need to be put into the program,” she said.
Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Michael Perry