Starlux promises premium experience for regional Asia business travel

Taiwan's newest airline launches in January 2020 with the promise of lie-flat luxury in a competitive business market.

By David Flynn, October 8 2019

Can an all-new airline not only survive but thrive in the highly competitive Asian market, where cut-throat competition seems to go hand in hand with cost-cutting?

That's the bold experiment about to be played out in Taiwan, where newcomer Starlux considers its premium approach to travel will be key to unlocking the duopoly of China Airlines and EVA Air.

The ambitious startup is spearheaded by a 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 will begin flying in January 2020 with an initial fleet of Airbus A321neo jets.

He may need to dig deep into those reserves as Starlux goes up against incumbents China Airlines (which belongs to SkyTeam) and EVA Air (a Star Alliance member). Starlux is not expected to join Oneworld, at least not in the early stages.

Starlux has pulled back the curtain on its Airbus A321neo seats.

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."

Taiwan's new Starlux will go head-to-head against China Airlines and EVA Air.

"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 explains.

Starlux Airbus A321neo flat-bed business class

Starlux will begin flying in January 2020 with three Airbus A321neo jets, with delivery of seven more across 2020.

Starlux reveals its Airbus A321neo business class seats, styled by BMW Designworks.

The A321neo aircraft will feature a business class cabin shaped by BMW’s Designworks studio, where eight seats in a 2-2 configuration convert to 82-inch (208cm) long fully flat beds, making Starlux the first of Taipei’s three major airlines to have lie-flat beds on a single-aisle jet.

Starlux' premium travel proposition begins with lie-flat beds in its A321neo business class.

Each seat will sport a 16-inch HD inflight entertainment screen, and Starlux is also promising "free basic WiFi" for all passengers, with the likely option to pay for a high-speed service.

Large video screens and free WiFi are on tap for the Taiwanese business traveller.

BMW Designworks is dressing the premium cabin around an elegant palette of classical dark grey with touches of rose gold, while the seat shells are adorned with BMW’s exclusive 'A72 Cashmere Silver' colour for a high-tech touch.

Starlux wants to earn a large slice of Asia's business travel market.

There will be 180 economy seats in a 3-3 layout – each with its own 10-inch SD screen, a USB port and leather headrest.

Starlux' Airbus A321neo economy seats show few surprises, although the leather headrest is a premium touch.

The first Starlux routes will be to Macau, Da Nang, and Penang, with other Southeast Asia destinations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and Thailand being added across 2020.

Starlux intends to launch Taiwan-US services in 2021 with the first of 17 Airbus A350 jetliners.

Five Airbus A350-900s will join the Starlux fleet from 2021, allowing it to expand its network to the US West Coast, with plans for a dozen of the larger A350-1000s from 2024. Starlux yet to reveal the seats slated for its international fleet.


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.



08 Oct 2019

Total posts 1

A350 or 777? Looks like a 777-300 to me in the last pic for their long haul plans?



Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 275

Well spotted.. definitely a B777 with that iconic wedge shaped tail giving it away (also the lack of the equally iconic “Sabre” winglets of the A350).

I bet the design agency just used a stock image of a widebody aircraft and slapped the Starlux graphics on it



Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 297

Will be interesting to see whether they can survive the current market without falling into the lowcost competition. The first few destinations seem to be leisure routes which would be price competitive.

Michael Kao

Michael Kao

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 338

It'll be A350. Destitute Chang being a 777 pilot and his passion for Boeing, due to the complex relationship (enmity to be exact) he had with EVA, he chose to go with all Airbus fleet. So yeah, it was a mistake on the CG. Maybe the image was created when they designed the livery and assuming that Chang will buy 777 as he is a 777 pilot.

Yes, it'll be interesting to see if they succeed. It'll be tough though given that all the premium airlines including EK, EY, QR and SQ have been struggling. Personally I prefer flying to remain a premium experience. But I'm only a minority.



Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

17 Mar 2016

Total posts 40

It will be interesting how a FOURTH Taiwanese regional airline will go. The current third airline being the struggling Far Eastern Air Transport. So it might be a better comparison with FAT, rather than EVA or China Airlines.

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