China Airlines (CAL) yesterday unveiled an Aboriginal-themed aircraft, an Airbus-330, which is to be used mainly on routes to Australia and New Zealand.
In 2012, the nation’s largest airline launched a service that flies from Taoyuan to Auckland via Sydney.
Last year, Taiwan and New Zealand inked the Agreement Between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC), a free-trade pact between the two WTO members. Issues relating to indigenous people were specifically listed in a chapter of the agreement.
“The Aborigines in Taiwan and Maori in New Zealand belong to a group of people who speak Austronesian languages,” the airline said. “Research has shown that they share similar genetic features and are closely related to each other in cultural and other aspects. The agreement stipulates that the two countries would engage in further exchanges in the management of Aboriginal affairs.”
The themed aircraft was a joint effort between CAL and the Council of Indigenous Peoples. The aircraft’s fuselage features paintings by artist Sakuliu Pavavalung of the Paiwan people and portrays a traditional Paiwan wedding.
Written on the aircraft are the words: “Masalu! Taiwan,” which means “Welcome to Taiwan” in the Paiwan language.
Aside from showing the Paiwan people’s unique culture to the world, the artist also tried to convey a festive atmosphere through the painting, the airline said.
After its makeover, the plane was scheduled to make its first flight to Auckland yesterday. The company hosted a ceremony at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to celebrate the occasion.
According to the airline, the aircraft has 30 business-class seats and 277 economy-class seats.
The Aboriginal theme is also displayed in the plane’s interior, including on headrest covers.
Though the aircraft is mainly to be used to carry passengers to Australia and New Zealand, the company said that it could also make trips to Japan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asian countries.
Statistics from the Council of Indigenous Peoples showed that Taiwan’s estimated Aboriginal population is about 530,000, which accounts for 2 percent of the total population.
The government recognizes 14 Aboriginal tribes.
Separately, the airline has an aircraft featuring endangered or protected animals as a theme. Its illustrations were prepared by Taiwanese artist Liao Fu-bin (廖福彬), also known as Jimmy.
China Airlines has another aircraft that features Taiwanese tourist attractions.