Taiwan’s Starlux Airlines Eyes Los Angeles As First US Destination

Taiwan’s Starlux Airlines has revealed it is eyeing Los Angeles as its first destination in the United States. In a filing with the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), Starlux is seeking to commence nonstop flights from Taipei to Los Angeles from 2022, using an Airbus A350-900.

Starlux A350
Starlux is planning on using an Airbus A350 to Los Angeles. Photo: Airbus

Starlux eyes Los Angeles

Starlux Airlines is one of the newest airlines in the world. A premium carrier based out of Taiwan, the airline has been mostly flying East Asian routes and some flights to nowhere amid the ongoing crisis. However, it has its sights set on broader international expansion.

The airline wants to fly from its hub at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Starlux will face some intense competition as China Airlines and EVA Air both fly nonstop between LAX and TPE. EVA flies the route up to three times a day, while China Airlines flies up to two times a day.

Starlux wants to fly this transpacific route from 2022. Rendering created at Great Circle Mapper

Los Angeles is one of 15 airports that Starlux previously highlighted as potentials for nonstop services from Starlux Airlines to Taiwan.

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The aircraft

Starlux has not yet taken any Airbus A350 aircraft. It is expecting its first to come at the end of 2021. While Starlux has not released its seating configuration in full, we do know that it is planning on putting a first class onboard its Airbus A350.

In total, Starlux states its Airbus A350s will have 306 seats onboard. This is the same number that Delta Air Lines offers on its Airbus A350-900s. Delta’s A350s only have business class, premium economy, extra-legroom economy, and economy.

Airbus A350-900 XWB
Starlux will be flying either an A350-900 or A350-1000 to Los Angeles. Photo: Getty Images

There are two ways to go about for Starlux to reach 306 passengers. It will likely have an intimate first class cabin. Perhaps only four or eight seats at the front of the plane. Behind that comes business class.

If Starlux opts for its current business class on the A321neos, it would be able to operate with a 2-2-2 configuration onboard. While not competitive, it would allow Starlux to offer a larger business class cabin without sacrificing floor space.

An interesting question, however, is if Starlux goes for a premium economy cabin onboard the A350s. The airline will likely offer a premium cabin on the A350s, as it is all the rage these days. The question is how it makes 306 seats fit onboard the A350.

Getting approval should not be problematic

Starlux Airlines is working with the DOT for approval. It will have to cross a lot of red tape but, ultimately, it is unlikely that the carrier will be denied operating approval to the United States.

The bigger question is what Starlux does with its Los Angeles route. The airline will need to sort out slots and gates in Los Angeles, decide how it wants to build its schedule out to facilitate connections, and ensure that LAX can provide for the airline’s entrance at the airport.

Aircraft at LAX
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is known as a major transpacific gateway. Photo: Getty Images

The question remains whether Starlux targets any partnerships in the United States. Making a long-haul route work with lots of competition usually requires a sufficient connecting network on either end (or both), which usually means a partnership. Los Angeles has room for plenty of partnerships, and Starlux could look at airlines like JetBlue, which has fewer partnerships out of Los Angeles. It could be an option, but neither Starlux nor JetBlue has revealed any information about a potential partnership.

Are you glad to see Starlux looking at starting up nonstop flights to the United States? Let us know in the comments!