StarLux Airlines Co (星宇航空) is considering delaying plans to fly from Taiwan to North America and Guam until the end of next year due to uncertainty over border restrictions, the company said yesterday.
“We are thinking of pushing back our plan to expand routes to North America to the end of next year,” Starlux spokesman Nieh Kuo-wei (聶國維) told the Taipei Times by telephone.
It had earlier proposed starting the flights in the middle of next year.
Photo courtesy of StarLux Airlines Co
“The outlook remains clouded,” Nieh said. “Although some have predicted that border controls would be eased with the US administering COVID-19 jabs, the situation is still uncertain.”
The International Air Transport Association has launched a travel pass system for governments and airlines that requires travelers to either provide a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination, but it remains to be seen whether the system would be accepted in Taiwan, he said.
StarLux has applied to the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) to operate 15 new routes from Taiwan to destinations including Boston, Chicago, Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington.
If it defers launching the flights to the end of next year, it would not need to reapply to the CAA, Nieh said.
However, it still needs approval from US regulators before launching the routes, he said.
StarLux would evaluate which destinations are most suitable to operate first, based on passenger demand and air cargo business potential, he said.
The airline might pick three or four destinations to begin flights next year, and another five to six destinations in 2023, Nieh said.
The airline in 2019 inked a deal with Airbus SE to purchase 17 A350s, and would start to take delivery of five A350-900s this year and 12 A350-1000s next year, he said.
Delivery of the first jets has been rescheduled to next year, as the pandemic has disrupted Airbus’ global supply chain, Nieh said.
StarLux has not finalized how many A350 jets it would receive next year, he said.
Starlux, which began operations in January last year, had a 2.13 percent market share in terms of passenger numbers and a 0.08 percent market share in terms of cargo volume in December last year, CAA statistics showed.
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