Air China under fire for warning about ethnic minority areas in London

Airline magazine urges caution in areas 'mainly populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people'

Air China under fire for warning about ethnic minority areas in London

File photo: Wikimedia Commons

A Chinese airline has come under fire after reportedly warning passengers to exercise caution when visiting areas of London "mainly populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people".

The advice in Air China's inflight magazine came to light after Beijing-based journalist Haze Fan posted a picture of the article on Twitter.

Social media users were quick to pick up on the article, which has been described as "ignorant" and "blatantly racist".

In a feature on visiting the capital, the airline urges travellers to be wary and take precautions when entering high ethnic minority areas in the capital.

The excerpt read: "London is generally a safe place to travel, however precautions are needed when entering areas mainly populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people.

"We advise tourists not to go out alone at night, and females always to be accompanied by another person when travelling."

Ms Fan, a news and documentary producer for US channel CNBC, tweeted the picture and linked in London Mayor Sadiq Khan, whose late father was an immigrant from Pakistan, asking for his opinion.

Writing for CNBC, she said: "Even for China, where companies have struggled with race issues in their marketing previously, the latest inflight magazine from the country's flagship airline will likely come as a shocker."

Backlash

Virendra Sharma, Labour MP for Ealing Southall, said he had raised the issue with the Chinese ambassador to the UK to demand an apology from the airline.

"I am shocked and appalled that even today some people would see it as acceptable to write such blatantly untrue and racist statements," he said.

"I have raised this issue with the Chinese ambassador, and requested that he ensures an apology is swiftly forthcoming from Air China, and the magazine is removed from circulation immediately.

"I have invited representatives of Air China to visit my constituency of Ealing Southall to see that a very multi-cultural area is safe, and would be of great value for those visiting London to see.

"I will await their response, and if an appropriate one is not forthcoming I shall feel forced to question whether Air China is a fit company to operate in the UK."

Air China is the country's flagship carrier, with 98 international routes and two flights per day from Beijing to London Heathrow.

The article was published in its monthly Wings Of China magazine.

Figures from VisitBritain show the number of trips to the UK from China rose by 46% last year to 270,000.

The airline has not commented on the article.