StarLux readies new Airbus A350 first class, business class

Taiwan's luxury startup plans to buck the travel trends by adding first class to its factory-fresh Airbus A350 fleet.

By David Flynn , September 7 2020
StarLux readies new Airbus A350 first class, business class

Taiwan's ambitious StarLux Airlines plans to offer first class on its new Airbus A350 jets in an effort to eclipse local rivals Eva Air and China Airlines, both of which have phased out first class in recent years.

Starlux, which took to the skies only in January 2020 and markets itself as a boutique luxury airline, has 17 A350s on order – nine of the medium-sized A350-900 and eight of the larger longer-range A350-1000 – with the first due for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2021.

StarLux will offer first class across its Airbus A350-900 and -1000 fleet.
StarLux will offer first class across its Airbus A350-900 and -1000 fleet.

And for the airline which until now has flown only single-aisle Airbus A321neo jets, this means the advent of all-new business class and first class seats.

More details are "to be determined by the end of the year" according to Taiwan's national news agency Focus Taiwan, with StarLux chief communications officer Nieh Kuo-wei suggesting the A350s will spearhead the airline's expansion to the US by mid-2022.

Both the A350-900s and A350-1000s will sport what's expected to be a compact first class cabin of as little as four suites, but with plenty to differentiate those premium pews from whatever business class StarLux settles upon.

One approach to A350 first class: the business/first 'front row' approach, as adopted by China Eastern.
One approach to A350 first class: the business/first 'front row' approach, as adopted by China Eastern.

StarLux could opt for a 'business/first' cabin similar to the Vantage First evolution designed by Thompson Aero and FactoryDesign to crown the Vantage XL business class on the Airbus A350s of China Eastern and Malaysia Airlines, although Eva's use of Thompson Vantage business class seating would likely rule that specific platform out of contention.

One approach to A350 first class: the business/first 'front row' approach, as adopted by Malaysia Airlines.
One approach to A350 first class: the business/first 'front row' approach, as adopted by Malaysia Airlines.

StarLux will also need to raise the business class bar above the high standards set by competitors Eva Air and China Airlines, which already boast some of Asia's best seats.

Tough competition from Eva Air's current business class.
Tough competition from Eva Air's current business class.

Indeed, given StarLux's upscale push, sliding privacy doors can't be ruled out for either its Airbus A350 first or business class cabins.

Tough competition from China Airlines' current business class.
Tough competition from China Airlines' current business class.

Starlux considers its premium approach to travel is paramount to unlocking the duopoly of China Airlines and EVA Air in the highly competitive Asian market.

The startup is lead 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 of US$1.45 billion.

Starlux describes itself as a “detail-oriented luxury airline" with an eye on the premium business travel market, while Chang's sees the upmarket airline being positioned as the "Emirates of Taiwan."

Starlux' flatbed Airbus A321neo business class seats were styled by BMW Designworks.
Starlux' flatbed Airbus A321neo business class seats were styled by BMW Designworks.

"I want to bring Taiwanese airline brands to the world stage, breaking the stereotypes that we don't have quality carriers, and that Taiwan is notorious for its (poor) aviation safety record," Chang has previously remarked.

Airline PR exec Nieh echoes the StarLux-as-Emirates model, saying "the development of StarLux doesn’t solely rely on the Taiwan market. Taipei has a superior geographical location – you can reach major Asian cities within five hours."

"Located in a central position connecting North America, North Asia, and Southeast Asia, Taiwan has the best foundation to develop as an aviation hub."

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 45

If they can make First Class work, then good on 'em. There's certainly no shortage of moneyed pax in Taiwan/ROC and indeed many other places who would want something just a little better than business class. And even a tiny FC cabin would immediately set them apart from EVA and China Airlines.

30 Aug 2018

Total posts 9

Looking forward to seeing what Starlux JX style F class will look like. 

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 71

Fabulous layouts, when can I book and when can I expect to fly out of Melbourne to Taiwan's tourist spots. Been in lockdown too long, ready to fly whenever I can. Bring it on!

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 514

If there is no partition between J and F I wouldn't be keen. I'd want an exclusive cabin and lavs for the price paid.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 140

Sorry I prefer egalitarian First aka Lufthansa and Qatar and ANA First Classes

 Schwitz aka Swiss International, Etihad,   pandered to their clientele who like being locked up in a cage I don't need  to say Nothing worse that LX and EY F locked up in a cage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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