We previously reported a few times about Starlux Airlines, a new carrier that’s based in Taiwan, led by a former EVA Air CEO and according to latest news they will soon feature a true First Class cabin.
In times where most other airlines are cutting back in capacity, customer experience and staff Starlux is going on the offensive and is looking at building up their fleet. Undoubtedly one of the most challenging environments ever to establish a new airline.
The announcement about the new three class cabin style came via CNA Focus Taiwan yesterday.
Taiwan based-StarLux Airlines Co. said on Sunday that its new fleet of wide-body A350 aircraft will have first class cabins, even though the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the aviation industry.
The airline, which flew its first commercial flight on Jan. 23, has ordered 17 wide-body A350 aircraft (nine A350-900s and eight A350-1000s) from Airbus, the first of which is scheduled to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to the airline’s spokesperson Nieh Kuo-wei (聶國維).
Since StarLux positions itself as a luxury airline, all of the aircraft will offer first class seats, with the exact seating arrangement to be determined by the end of the year, Nieh said.
The fleet will first be used to fly routes to Northeast and Southeast Asia, and then to the United States in the second quarter of 2022, when the airline plans to begin services to the U.S. west coast, Nieh said.
With the purchase, StarLux stands to become the second of Taiwan’s carriers, after China Airlines (CAL), to operate A350-900s and the first to operate A350-1000s. …
I’m surprised that Starlux has come up with a business model that they can make First Class work considering most international carriers have either already eliminated First or cut back capacity to an absolute minimum.
There is no decision about the seat and the configuration yet so I’d caution to expect too much before we can see the first renderings. Unless it’s at least a 1-2-1 configuration with a suite like seat it’s hard to consider it First Class in today’s product environment.
Starlux only had a few months of regular service until Covid hit and isolated Taiwan. The country has fared extraordinarily well with managing the Coronavirus and identified the threat early on. Of course the country has closed their borders ever since to visitors.
Either way having a true First Class on board means that the carrier has to come up with a fare structure to support this product. Is Taiwan really a market for First Class? While there are some wealthy people in the country and it’s a technology hub I find it hard to believe that many would pay for First Class which was one of the reasons why the competition has eliminated this cabin product a long time ago. Even airlines in Korea (Asiana and Korean Air) are now disbanding most of their routes that feature First Class and instead sell these seats as Business. I consider Korea a higher value market with more status conscious passengers than those in Taiwan, especially corporate customers.
The aircraft won’t actively enter the fleet until late 2021 so at the moment there isn’t much of a burden on the carrier. Right now they only have a few single aisle aircraft. Their operations are small so the costs aren’t killing them compared to the big legacy carriers, especially their Taiwanese counterparts China Airlines (soon to be renamed) and EVA Air.
I’m excited to see what Starlux is going to make of this announcement after all. Hopefully it wasn’t something to keep the name in the news. It’s easy to promise something and then under-deliver because the product isn’t up to expectations.