Among the many new airlines emerging in Asia, one airline in particular – STARLUX – is gearing up to offer travelers a premium travel experience. Founded by former EVA Air chairman Chang Kuo-wei, the new airline will be entering competitive Asian aviation market including offering a new connecting travel option for customers traveling between North America and Asia. The new airline will have its hub at Taipei's Taoyuan International Airport, and the airline will first open up regional flights using Airbus A321neo aircraft. By the year 2022, STARLUX plans to expand with its first trans-Pacific flights using Airbus A350s.
In anticipation of the STARLUX's first flights next year, this Q&A has some general questions about the airline's planned fleet and how its preparing for its first flights next year answered by a company official.
Q : As STARLUX aims to be the “Emirates of Asia,” how will Taipei's Taoyuan Airport benefit the airline's plans to become an option for connecting travel?
A: STARLUX is based in Taoyuan Airport, with an advantageous geographic location within the fast-growing Asia-Pacific market. Within 5 hours, we can reach most major cities in Asia. From Taoyuan Airport, transfer passengers can further fly to destinations in North America and Europe.
Q: In March, STARLUX selected the Airbus A350 for its long-haul flights with an order of up to 17 jets. Along with the A350s will be 10 leased Airbus A321neos for short-haul flights. What were the major contributing factors which led to the selection of the A350 and the A321neo?
A: The quality and efficiency of the A321neo is what we value. In addition, it’s range also fits our plan to operate our initial flights between Taipei and southeast and northeast Asian destinations.
In line with our plan to expand routes to North America in 2022, A350XWBs will be delivered beginning in late 2021. The cutting-edge fuselage design of the A350XWB makes it exceptional in fuel efficiency and future maintenance cost. Moreover, its seating capacity is perfectly suited to STARLUX’s future network. The time required to complete the Type Rating courses is minimal, and this is also something that we value.
Q: With STARLUX's plans to launch its first flights to Southeast Asia, some of the potential destiantions that have been reported include Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Bali, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Is there any other destinations currently under consideration?
A: STARLUX will start with routes between Taipei and southeast/northeast Asian destinations. We expect to add routes to North America in 2022. Other potential destinations are still under evaluation.
Q: The airline operations require people to be the pilots, support staff, and cabin crew. How has STARLUX approached the recruitment process to hire the right people for these tasks?
A: Our cadet pilot program has been up and running since June of last year. At this time, the first class of STARLUX cadet pilots has already begun intensive training in Phoenix, Arizona, and will take about a year to finish. We are currently in the process of selecting candidates for our second class of cadets.
Assessment of the first batch of cabin crew trainees was completed in March. Our recruitment aimed for experienced cabin crew or those who have solid experience in the service industry. The selection process included formal interviews and tests. The first batch of our cabin crew will start training in July.
Q: With the first flights set to take off in 2020, when could travelers expect to see STARLUX open flight reservations?
A: Travelers will be able to start booking tickets around December this year.
Q: What inflight features could travelers expect to experience on a STARLUX flight?
A: We are committed to exquisitely designed cabins to bring our customers the utmost comfort and feeling of hospitality from the moment they step into our cabin.
We hope every passenger will be able to experience the utmost in connectivity and entertainment during the flight. No matter what class they are sitting in, all of our passengers will be able to enjoy free wifi under different data plans and will have access to a personal entertainment system.
In the first-class of our A350XWBs, we plan to provide customized service. We plan to institute an “on-call” service that will allow our passengers to do things such as eat, drink or sleep on their own time table, without following a specific service SOP.