FRIENDLY REMINDER

Air China warns travelers to watch out for “Indians, Pakistanis and black people” in London

Obsession
Getting There
Obsession
Getting There

Updated on Sept. 8 at 9:42am, EST.

Air China execs must not have noticed the international uproar sparked by a Chinese detergent company‘s racist ad earlier this year. In the September issue of its inflight magazine, the Chinese airline wholeheartedly embraced racial stereotypes, warning travelers to avoid areas of London inhabited by “Indians, Pakistanis and black people.”

“London is generally a safe place to travel, however precautions are needed when entering areas mainly populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people,” reads Wings of China in English, CNBC reports. “We advise tourists not to go out alone at night, and females always to be accompanied by another person when traveling.”

Wings of China is a bilingual publication. The Chinese-language version of the tip describes areas populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people as “relatively more chaotic.”

CNBC Beijing correspondent Haze Fan was flying with China’s state-owned airline, when she noticed the “Tips from Air China” section. Fan tweeted the picture to Sadiq Khan, London’s British-Pakistani mayor.

Now London politicians are demanding an apology from the company. Dr. Rosena Allin-Khan, a Labour Party MP of Tooting, an area with large Indian and Pakistani population in London told the Standard: “I think that it is offensive to Londoners and I would like to see it removed. I would also like to ask the airline why they thought these precautions needed to be taken.”

“We pride ourselves on having a wonderfully diverse community, and this may mean people come here with a different idea, it is worrying that some may arrive concerned,” the MP added.

In the same paper, assemblywoman Florence Eshalomi called the airline tips “outdated and near-on racist views.” She said, “That is the make-up of London. If airlines have a problem with that then we don’t want them in London.”

Air China is an intercontinental carrier owned by China National Aviation Corporation, which is part of a state-owned holding company of the same name. The airline operated between 58 to 65 flights from China to London’s five airports every month in the past year, according to schedule data from PlaneStats.com.

On a webpage of the Air China website, its in-flight magazine is described as “a formal magazine approved by the General Administration of Press and Publication of the PRC,” China’s censorship bureau. According to airline magazine advertising company IMM International, Wings of China reaches an audience of 4.1 million people monthly.

Update: A statement to Quartz from Air China referred to its London safety tips as “inappropriate” and noted that Wings of China is one of many publications that the airline distributes. The company has “immediately retracted the magazine from all its flights, demanded the Wings of China newsroom to learn from the lesson, and to reinforce the content review process to avoid similar problems in the future.”

Subsidiary Air China Media also issued an apology letter, addressed to the airline itself: “[The] inappropriate text statement contradicts our intention to promote the beauty of London, and caused misunderstanding with some media and readers, we deeply apologize for that.”

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