In November 2016, K.W. Chang, former Chairman of Eva Air, announced that he would be launching a new airline, Starlux Airlines. Over the next couple of years, the airline started working on its certifications, ordered its first aircraft, and recruited its first staff.
Yesterday, it has taken delivery of its first aircraft, an Airbus A321neo.
Starlux Airlines Receives Its First A321neo
The newly delivered aircraft, registered B-58201, is the first of ten A321neos that the airline plans to add to its fleet in over the next couple of years. It will be ferried from Hamburg to its new home, Taipei Taoyuan airport over the next couple of days.
Starlux Airlines plans to start operations in early 2020 with three of the aircraft flying between Taipei and southeast and northeast Asian destinations. Reportedly, it will start with flights to Da Nang in Vietnam, Macau, and Penang in Malaysia.
Starlux Airlines’ Cabin Design, Crew Uniforms, and Fragrance
Earlier this year, Starlux Airlines introduced the A321neos’ cabin design – as well as the uniforms that will be worn by the crew and the airline’s signature fragrance.
The last of the three left me wondering about how many (if any) other airlines have their own fragrance. Pan, founder of P. SEVEN., the company that developed the fragrance, said of the occasion:
Smells can be an indelible part of our memories. A certain aroma can remind you of a specific place and time. I tried to develop a fragrance that could evoke the pleasant feeling of flying with STARLUX.
While the airline has not revealed the exact number of seats on their A321neos yet, it became clear that the aircraft will feature interiors designed by BMW Group Designworks.
Economy class seats will feature a headrest like most long-haul aircraft do will be equipped with 10.1-inch IFE screens. The seats will feature USB ports as well.
Business class will be equipped with full-flat seats in a “2-2” configuration. Each of the seats will be equipped with a 15.6-inch IFE screen. Starlux Airlines will be the first Taiwanese airline to feature full-flat seats on narrow-body aircraft.
Starlux Airlines plans to offer free Wi-Fi to both economy and business class passengers.
As for the uniforms, perhaps the most notable thing is that pilots will – rather than typical pilot hats – wear “baseball caps.”
Starlux Airlines’ Future Long-Haul Expansion
Even though initially the airline plans to focus on regional destinations, the airline also has long-haul ambitions. More specifically, it plans to operate flights to North America.
To do that, the airline signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Airbus A350 aircraft at the 2018 Farnborough Airshow and confirmed the order in early 2019. When signing the MoU, K.W. Chang commented that:
As a pilot myself, I personally experienced the test-flight of the A350-1000. Its outstanding performance really amazed me. The A350XWB is indeed one-of-a-kind in the current market, and perfectly suited for such a geographic location as Taiwan.
The airline is expected to receive a total of 17 A350s including 5 A350-900s and 12 A350-1000s.
The shorter A350-900s are expected to be delivered in late 2021, just in time for Starlux Airlines’ plan to start flights to North American in 2022. The longer A350-1000s will follow starting from the Q3 2022.
By 2024, the airline plans to operate an all-Airbus fleet of 27 aircraft and serve as many as 20 destinations in Asia and North America.
Personally, I like Starlux Airlines’ concept of providing an experience that is slightly more upscale than what the other two major carriers in Taiwan – China Airlines and Eva Air – offer.
Whether the airline will live up to that, especially in terms of soft product, remains to be seen. I certainly hope they do, and I hope to fly and review Starlux Airlines once it launches scheduled flights.
In a way, the airline reminds me of Starflyer, my favorite Japanese airline.