Thu, Oct 03, 2019 - Page 12 News List

StarLux eyes second-tier Asian cities

NICHE MARKETS:As it is to commence operations using smaller planes, StarLux said it would start by flying to cities like Penang and Da Nang to stay competitive

By Kao Shih-ching  /  Staff reporter

Starlux Airlines Co Ltd chairman Chang Kuo-wei, front row left, and fashion designer Sean Lin, show off new uniforms for the airline’s flight attendants, pilots and ground staff at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Kao Shih-ching, Taipei Times

StarLux Airlines Co (星宇航空) is to concentrate on operating routes from Taiwan to second-tier cities in Asia until mid-2021 to avoid head-to-head competition with the nation’s two major airlines in big cities, chairman Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒) said yesterday.

StarLux is to initially use five Airbus SE A321neo aircraft when it begins services next year, he said.

As the narrow-body aircraft have less capacity and is less efficient compared with the wide-body jets used by other airlines, it would be less competitive if it flies to big cities in Asia, he added.

“We have to consider what kinds of airplanes our competitors use when choosing destinations. We do not want to play hardball with them,” Chang told a news conference in Taipei, where he introduced the uniforms for the airline’s pilots, flight attendants and ground staff.

Some passengers prefer twin-aisle aircraft when flying to big cities, which Starlux also took into account, he said.

StarLux has chosen Macau; Penang, Malaysia; and Da Nang, Vietnam; as its first three destinations when services start on Jan. 23, because they are second-tier cities, he added.

The airline would gradually expand its network to other second-tier cities in Asia next year, Chang said, adding that it would not fly to first-tier cities in Asia until after taking delivery of five A350-900 wide-body aircraft in 2021.

That means StarLux would not offer flights to Japan next year, even though it is one of the most-favored destinations for Taiwanese, he said, adding that Southeast Asia remains the biggest market for transfer business.

StarLux is to receive one Airbus A321neo later this month, which Chang said he would fly himself from Hamburg, Germany, to “make sure everything with the new plane is okay.”

The second and third A321neo aircraft would be delivered later this year and in early January before StarLux begins services, he said.

The airline is to take delivery of another two A321neos later next year and expects to receive a total of 12 airplanes — including A350s and A321neos — in 2021, which would be the highest number of deliveries in a single year in Taiwan, he added.

StarLux is confident that it would be able to beat rivals that also use single-aisle jets, as it has equipped its narrow-body aircraft with amenities typically offered only in wide-body jetliners, such as lie-flat business-class seats, Chang said.

It would provide free Wi-Fi service for all business and economy-class passengers, he added.

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