Taiwan's Starlux Airlines will spread its wings to Singapore on September 23 as regional travel restrictions begin to ease for those who've been fully vaccinated.
The startup carrier's Airbus A321neo is slated to fly the five-hour route on the following schedule:
* flight JX731 will depart Taipei at 9.20am to reach Singapore at 1.45pm
* flight JX732 will be wheels up from Singapore at 3.05pm for its return to Taipei at 8.05pm
Those flights will initially run twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with plans to add Saturday in October.
In Singapore, Starlux flights will arrive and depart from Changi Airport's Terminal 1. Starlux business class passengers, and top-tier Explorer and Insighter members of its Cosmile frequent flyer program, will have access to T1's SATS Premier lounge.
On board Starlux's Airbus A321neo, premium passengers can relax in one of eight business class seats, which convert to a fully-flat 82" bed...
... while the self-proclaimed luxury boutique airline promises passengers will enjoy "an exclusive menu created by Michelin chefs with a rich selection of wines."
Behind the curtain are 180 economy class seats, whose occupants will probably not be supping on a Michelin menu.
While travellers from Taiwan won't have to enter quarantine, they'll still be required to show proof of vaccination – for which Singapore is using the Travel Pass app – and undergo a rapid Covid-19 test on arrival.
Although entry into Taiwan is restricted mainly to nationals, Starlux says it moved to open the route now "based on the current level of cargo flight demand" and is hoping to see a two-way bubble open between the two countries for both business and leisure travellers as vaccination rates increase and case rates tumble.
The Singapore-Taipei corridor was once among Asia's busiest air route, and will see Starlux go up against three well-established competitors in Taiwan's China Airlines and EVA Air as well as the might of Singapore Airlines.
Starlux is also not affiliated with any airline alliance, whereas both EVA and Singapore Airlines belong to Star Alliance, while China Airlines is a member of SkyTeam.
To help woo high-value loyalists of Singapore Airlines, China Airlines and EVA Air to sample the challenger, Starlux is offering a two-year status match to its top Cosmile Explorer and Insighter tiers for frequent flyers holding 'the highest-tier and the second highest tier" of its competitors, and indeed the premium elites of any airline.
Positioned as a "detail-oriented luxury airline", Starlux was founded in mid-2018 by long-term 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.
However, shortly after launching in January 2020, Starlux flew headlong into the Covid pandemic and was forced to rebuild its nascent network route by route.
Plans to begin flights to the USA have also been pushed back, with the first Airbus A350s – which will feature first class and business class cabins, alongside premium economy and economy – now due for delivery in mid-late 2022.