Starlux Airlines looks to be making good on its promise to bring a new style of premium travel to Asia and beyond, with the reveal of its all-new Airbus A350 first class and business class suites.
The advanced twin-jet will spearhead the Taiwanese start-up’s entry into the US market from early 2023 and help Starlux level up against local rivals China Airlines and EVA Air – as could Starlux’s possible entry in to the Oneworld alliance.
A startup led by longterm Taiwanese aviation executive and former EVA Air chairman Chang Kuo-wei, scion of one of the island-nation’s richest families with an estimated net worth exceeding US$1 billion, Starlux has been touted by Chang as becoming the “Emirates of Taiwan.”.
This is based in part on Taipei’s geographical location: “you can reach major Asian cities within five hours,” Chang has observed.
“Located in a central position connecting North America, North Asia, and Southeast Asia, Taiwan has the best foundation to develop as an aviation hub.”
Chang cited the A350 as a perfect complement to the carrier’s existing A321neo and A330neo jets, saying “ the Starlux fleet fleet now can cover short, mid, and long range flights, providing service to passengers outside Asia.”
Starlux A350 first class
Starlux’s decision to include first class on its A350s is intended to give it a premium travel advantage over local rivals China Airlines and Eva Air, both of which phased out first class in recent years.
There’s a single row of four high-walled suites “built with a 60-inch door wall, allowing the passengers to have a personal suite on the aircraft.”
Each suite includes a 32" HD video screen and personal mini-bar, while “a personal wardrobe is provided to store luggage.”
The seat can of course convert into a lie-flat bed but also “comes with a zero-gravity feature to offer extra comfort and relaxation.”
Starlux A350 business class
Starlux is also aiming to elevate its A350 business class above that of China Airlines and Eva Air.
All 26 business class suites are framed by “a 48-inch door and a cozy lamp to provide warmth,” the airline says; and like first class, there are both lie-flat bed and zero-gravity modes.
The 24" HD screen features Bluetooth audio streaming to the passenger’s own headphones or earbuds – this high-tech trait also appears in first class, premium economy and economy – while the materials and trim of the business suites shows fine attention to detail.
Starlux A350 seat map
Although we haven’t yet seen the official Starlux A350 seating chart, the jet is known to have four travel classes:
- four first class suites
- 26 business class seats
- 36 premium economy seats
- 240 economy seats
As expected, the Starlux A350 cabin offers a refined, warm and calming design embracing a palette of natural colours, similar to that of the Starlux A330neo and in keeping with Starlux’s positioning as a self-declared “detail-oriented luxury airline”, especially in the premium cabins.
Starlux believe this approach is paramount to unlocking the duopoly of China Airlines and EVA Air in the highly competitive Asian market.
Starlux A350 delivery
The first Starlux A350 delivery has already joined its A321neo and A330neo siblings in the airline’s hangars, with a second A350 to follow by year’s end, two more in 2023 and another four in 2024 – then come the final 10 deliveries streaming through to the end of 2027.
All 18 will be the popular A350-900 model, with Starlux having cancelled its original plans for a mix of the versatile A350-900 variant and the longer-range A350-1000.
Starlux A350 routes
As is commonplace once airlines add a new type of aircraft to their fleet, Starlux will begin short-range A350 flights for the purpose of crew familiarisation and to fine-tune procedures other operational procedures at Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport – as well as publicising its shiny new jet, of course.
But where Starlux will first fly the A350 remains to be seen. A spokesperson for the airline tells Executive Traveller “it will be South East Asian destinations, however, the exact routes are still under planning.”
Singapore is likely to be on that shortlist, along with Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and perhaps a destination in Japan (Starlux currently flies to Tokyo, Sapporo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Okinawa).
But those regional hops may not take off until early 2023, due to the need to have the A350 certified by Taiwanese authorities – a procedure which could take until early next year, the airline says.
From April 2023 Starlux will swing the A350 onto its first US routes, between Taipei and Los Angeles, the spokesperson confirmed.
Other North American cities will follow, and Starlux isn’t stopping there, with plans to extend its A350 network into Europe.