Taiwan’s new airline Starlux is officially in the sky. The highly-anticipated airline commenced operations this week with the first flight from Taipei to Macau on 23 January 2020. The airline chose to launch this week due to strong demand for travel around the Chinese New Year.
A story of sibling rivalry came to a head this week when new airline Starlux took to the skies for the first time. The airline has launched operations with a fleet of A321neo aircraft which feature 188 seats including eight business class seats which lie completely flat.
Starlux will operate the route to Macau 106 times a week. The other launch routes are to Da Nang in Vietnam and Penang in Malaysia will be flown 36 and 14 times a week respectively. The airline is planning on launching another route to Cebu in the Philippines in coming months.
Starlux was born out of retaliation when CEO Chang Kuo-Wei was ousted from Taiwan’s EVA Air by his half-siblings after the death of their father. Chang vowed to set up a rival airline. So Starlux was created and the aviation world held its breath to watch the drama unfold. And now, here we are, waiting to see if the airline will be a success.
The personal reasons behind the airline’s origins can be seen in how much care the CEO is taking in setting up his airline. Chang has sworn to inspect and fly every aircraft used by the airline. His level of care is touching, if potentially impractical. The airline is expecting to receive 17 A350s over the coming years which, if Chang wants to fly each one of them, will mean the CEO will be in the sky a fair bit.
The airline has plans to be the “Emirates of Taiwan” with a strong focus on luxury. In a statement announcing the creation of the airline, Chang said: “I want to bring Taiwanese airline brands to the world stage, breaking the stereotypes that we don’t have quality carriers”. But this will be the first time Taiwan has a new airline in over 30 years, so it has a lot to prove.
Sink or swim
A record number of airlines went bust in 2019. This includes Taiwan’s Far Eastern Air Transport which folded in December. So, in a time of high fuel prices and operating costs, starting a new airline seems risky.
But Starlux has taken a slightly different approach which may just be the key to success. Rather than launching a budget carrier available to all and relying on high passenger numbers, Starlux is aiming at the high-end market.
The onboard menu is being designed with help from a Michelin star restaurant, a unique fragrance has been created especially for Starlux passengers and the business class seats lie completely flat. There was so much excitement surrounding the airline’s launch that tickets for the first flight to Macau sold out in just 11 minutes.
Even the livery has been designed with luxury in mind. The color scheme is designed to “add a sense of dignity and luxury.” And the infinity symbol on the tail represents the “boundlessness of dreams and aspirations”. Chang certainly has a lot of aspirations.
But will this expensive, luxury approach be a success? The local, short-haul destinations will help the airline keep its operating costs down. And if the demand for the first flight tickets is anything to go by, it may just work.
But the airline has plans to offer long-haul international flights to North America as soon as 2022. This means that it will be competing against the airline it currently emulates; Emirates. But Chang has big plans and lots of experience, not to mention lots of capital.
What do you think of Starlux? Do you think it will be a success? Let us know in the comments.