Could Startup Starlux Become The Emirates Of East Asia?

Starlux, the new wonder startup airline from Taiwan, has lofty goals to become the Emirates of Asia, transporting high-end passengers through their centralized hub airport with their fleet of Airbus A350s.

Could Startup Starlux Become The Emirates Of East Asia?
Starlux has some big ambitions. Photo: Starlux Airlines

What are the details?

Taiwan has an interesting aviation market, split between EVA and China Airlines. It is much like other duopolies in the world, like the UK with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, Australia with Qantas and Virgin Australia and Japan with Japan Airlines and ANA.

Typically, it is almost impossible for a new airline to break into these markets with the incumbents joining forces to block access. However, in Taiwan, one such business leader has seen an opportunity to launch its own airline, Starlux.

Chang Kuo-Wei, the former chairman of EVA, has decided to break into the market with a new airline. But unlike the typical route of most new airline startups (focusing on low-cost travel), Starlux has a very different destiny…

What are their goals?

Mr Chang has said that this airline will be luxury-focused, catering to cashed-up holidaymakers and business travelers.

“Many new airlines have been tapping into the low-cost sector in the market, particularly in this part of the world,” says CK Law, professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong to CNN “That’s definitely the major trend. There should be a reasonable demand for the high-end passenger segment of the market.”

He has even gone as far as to say he wants Starlux to become the Emirates of Asia. Emirates is known for its opulent luxury onboard, featuring bars, private suites and showers for their high-end guests.

“We position ourselves as a boutique airline, targeting the higher-end market. We have introduced the most advanced aircraft models with the latest aviation technology and seats. We offer exquisite service items so the fare will be slightly higher than the other airlines.”Starlux spokesperson to CNN

And their fleet certainly reflects this, with an order for 10 top of the range Airbus A321neos and a massive order for 17 Airbus A350XWB for long-haul travel.

Starlux Airlines taking delivery of their first A321neo in Hamburg
B-58201 is the first of 10 Airbus A321neos to be delivered to Starlux Airlines. Photo Starlux Airlines

Where will they fly?

But Emirates is not just known for its young fleet, but for how they use it to operate routes around their central hub in Dubai. Starlux plans to give its hub airport, Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the same level of connectivity.

“The development of Starlux doesn’t solely rely on the Taiwan market. Taipei has a superior geographical location — you can reach major Asian cities within five hours”Starlux spokesperson to CNN

And this was proven when Starlux revealed its first few routes last month.

  • Macau – Popular gambling and tourist destination near Hong Kong
  • Da Nang, Vietnam – An old french colonial port on the coast of Vietnam, known for its sandy beaches and European culture.
  • Penang, Malaysia – Popular tourist island in the north of Malaysia
The three new routes that Starlux will be operating. Photo: GCmaps

As for long haul, the airline plans to fly international routes to Singapore, then Australia, Europe, and the United States.

Thus part of their goal is to provide transport for passengers looking to move onward from Taiwan. However, without being part of an alliance this greatly limits the throughput of passengers.

What about onboard?

However, part of the appeal of flying on Emirates is the luxurious fit-out of their aircraft.

Starlux has taken this to heart with some impressive specs for their cabin layout. Their entire interior is being designed by BMW’s Designworks Studio, who are apparently cooking up some fantastical designs to rival the ones they made for EVA air last year.

EVA business class
Those seats wouldn’t be out of place in an M6. Photo: BMW’s Designworks studio

Each seat will have a large entertainment screen and business will feature lie-flat seats. Basic WiFi will be present, free of charge, throughout the flight. Lastly, their flight attendant uniforms have been totally redesigned to create a look not seen since the 50s and 60s.

Starlux has a long journey ahead of themselves before they can become a big juggernaut like Emirates, but with the stage being set for a massive showdown with their rivals we wish them all the luck in the world.

What do you think? Will you fly on Starlux? Let us know in the comments.