Taiwanese new kid on the block Starlux Airlines has decided to trade four of its Airbus A350-1000 orders for the smaller A350-900 version of the aircraft. Starlux had initially placed an order for 17 A350s back in March as part of an order that also included a bunch of leased Airbus A321neos.
Having had time to digest what it was getting into, the Taiwanese start-up has decided to retreat from the 12 A350s it had originally ordered. Starlux decided that it would be better suited to more of the smaller A350s and will now take eight A350-1000s and nine A350-900s according to a backlog revision carried out by Airbus.
What this now means for the European planemaker is orders for 176 Airbus A350-1000s and 737 orders for the more popular A350-900 version of the A350.
What is the difference between the A350-1000 and the A350-900?
As the numbers would suggest the A350-1000 is larger than the A350-900 by about seven meters (23 feet). This means that, using a typical seating configuration, the A350-1000 can accommodate 40 more passengers than the A350-900.
With more capacity, you encounter a higher maximum take-off weight. While both aircraft use the same Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines, the ones on the A350-1000 have been modified to produce an extra 57 kN of thrust.
Producing more thrust means it also burns more fuel than the smaller A350-900. This means airlines need to think carefully about which version of the A350 is right for them.
The Airbus A350-900 is more popular than the A350-1000
Obviously, Starlux Airlines have crunched the numbers and made a decision. While the airline is still keen on the A350-1000, it seems the A350-900 version is more suited to some of its planned long-haul routes to Europe and North America.
While speaking to Business Traveller about the Starlux Airline A350 order chief commercial officer of Airbus, Christian Scherer said:
“With the A350 joining the fleet in 2021, Starlux will benefit from commonality by operating single-aisle and widebody aircraft together offering a seamless experience for both passengers and crew.”
A tip for plane spotters trying to tell the two aircraft apart is to look at the main landing gear. The A350-900 has two pairs of wheels on each side whilst, to accommodate the extra weight, the A350-1000 has three pairs of wheels on each side.
Who is Starlux Airlines?
Describing itself as a detail-oriented luxury airline, Starlux Airlines is bucking the trend by targeting affluent business travelers. Almost every other new airline that comes along goes the no-frill, fast turnaround low-cost route, whereas Starlux Airlines has gone in the opposite direction.
Stewarded by former EVA Air Chairman and Boeing 777 pilot Chang Kuo-Wei, Starlux Airlines is aiming to be a luxury brand that will be competing against China Airlines and EVA Air.
Starlux Airlines certainly have the funding and knowledgeable chairmen at the helm, but I can’t help feeling that the upmarket route they are taking might not work.
What do you think? Please let us know in the comments.