Wed, May 09, 2018 - Page 1 News List

StarLux eyeing Asia’s upscale market: chairman

Staff writer, with CNA

StarLux Airlines chairman Chang Kuo-wei speaks at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

StarLux Airlines (星宇航空) is eyeing the Asian market in the initial stages of its operation, with a focus on high-end travelers, chairman Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒) said yesterday.

“The Taiwanese market is too small, so we need to expand our focus to the Asian region,” said Chang, a former EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) chairman.

There is still room for growth in the aviation market, StarLux president Glenn Chai (翟健華) said, adding that the Asia-Pacific region would play a bigger role in the global market in the coming years.

According to the International Air Transport Association, by 2035, 40 percent of a total of 7.2 billion global passengers would be traveling across the area, compared with 30 percent of 3.8 billion passengers in 2016.

Chang said that StarLux’s direct competitors are long-established carriers including Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd (國泰航空) and Singapore Airlines Ltd, as well as Taiwan-based China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) and EVA Airways.

StarLux might also go into the cargo business, he said.

He confirmed that former EVA Airways president Austin Cheng (鄭傳義) is to serve as the company’s vice chairman.

With registered capital of NT$30 billion (US$1 billion), the airline currently has 150 employees, but expects this number to rise to about 7,000 within 10 years, Chai said.

The company will seek to differentiate itself by targeting high-end travelers by introducing more modern and flexible services, Chang said.

StarLux will start by offering flights to East and Southeast Asian countries, with Japan “definitely one of our destinations,” he said.

It would then expand to North America, starting with the US west coast in two to three years, he added.

StarLux will start by leasing 10 Airbus A321neo narrow-body aircraft, with the first scheduled to arrive in October next year.

The airline is in the final stages of evaluation and selection for an additional 14 wide-body aircraft and will take delivery of the first of those by the end of 2021, it said.

With three A321neo aircraft flying the initial routes from Taipei to Southeast Asian and East Asian destinations, the carrier aims to expand its fleet to 24 aircraft by the end of 2024, serving more than 20 destinations in Asia and North America.

Chang was chairman of EVA Air from 2013 to 2016, when he was ousted in a battle over control of the company following the death of his father, Evergreen Group (長榮集團) founder Chang Jung-fa (張榮發).

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