Starlux Airlines Increases Its Airbus Order, Adding A330neos

Taiwanese startup carrier Starlux Airlines has been forced to change its fleet plans due to the impact of the global pandemic. The new airline confirmed its order for 17 Airbus A350s last year. However, the manufacturing process is now behind schedule and delivery will not take place in 2021 as planned. The airline has decided to lease eight A330-900neos, which will join the fleet next year to allow operations to continue.

Airbus A330
Starlux will lease eight Airbus A330-900neos to help grow its network. Its other aircraft have been delayed due to manufacturing issues. Photo: Airbus

Starlux Airlines can’t seem to catch a break. The airline was forced to suspend operations just two months after it first took to the skies because of the global pandemic. Now, even though it has resumed operations, its growth plans are stalling.

Starlux only had three routes when it grounded its fleet in March. It had planned to begin taking delivery of its A350s next year with ambitions to expand its network. However, as manufacturing ground to a halt due to the virus outbreak, the airline is now not expecting delivery until 2022 at the earliest.

To solve the fleet issue, the airline has confirmed it will lease eight A330-900s. With delivery scheduled before the end of next year, Starlux will be the first Taiwanese airline to fly the A330-900.

Airbus Starlux
Starlux plans to use its Airbus A350s to launch long-haul flights to the US. Photo: Airbus

Fleet plans

Until the new order announcement, Starlux had 27 aircraft on order, including 10 A321neos, nine A350-900, and eight A350-1000. As well as the A330neos, the airline will take another A350-900. It had planned to use the A350s to launch routes to the US, something which will now have to wait another year.

The airline is also taking an additional three A321neos, which it uses on regional routes. These aircraft will allow Starlux to expanded its intra-Asia network over the coming years. The airline is planning on taking delivery of all the planes before 2024.

A growing airline

Although it was forced to ground operations just months after takeoff, Starlux hasn’t been put off. It is being forced to rethink its plans, and indeed, it will have to push a few dates, but its plans for growth remain virtually unchanged.

The airline’s luxury offerings have proven popular so far, successfully bucking the trend for new, low-cost carriers. Photo: Designworks

Starlux is still aiming to launch its long-haul flights to the US within the next few years. It will face healthy competition from other carriers in the area, including Chinese airlines such as China Southern, China Eastern, and Air China.

However, so far, the airline’s luxury offerings have proven popular with passengers. And the airline is already showing how good it is at adapting. As well as snapping up orders for new planes, the airline has recently launched several “flights to nowhere.” The flights have proven to be so popular with passengers that it is launching more in October.

The airline’s ability to adapt to the industry’s current state and changing regulations bodes well for the airline’s success. Starlux is bucking the trend by being one of the very few new airlines which have chosen to focus on the high-end market. Most new airlines are low-cost, no-frills. If Starlux can make itself a success, it might inspire more luxury airlines to try and break into the market.

What do you think of Starlux? Have you flown with the airline yet? Do you think the airline might inspire more luxury carriers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.