Executive Traveller exclusive
Taiwan’s Starlux Airlines sees membership of an airline alliance in its future, once the startup has expanded its fleet and network across Asia and to North America.
The carrier’s push into the premium Taiwan-Singapore route has raised the question of alliance membership as part of its longer-term playbook.
On that busy Asian corridor, Starlux will battle against incumbents China Airlines, EVA Air and Singapore Airlines – each with its own legion of loyalists, and each of which belongs to a global alliance.
And as Starlux spreads its wings even further, it believes alliance membership will help level the international playfield field.
“We are a new airline in the beginning stages of development, so it is still too early for us to join an alliance,” Starlux’ Chief Communications Officer KW Nieh tells Executive Traveller.
“However, once we have reached a certain level of growth, we will certainly become a member of an alliance to provide more convenience to our passengers.”
As to which alliance Starlux would join, the answer seems obvious.
With local rivals China Airlines and EVA Air respectively belonging to SkyTeam (since 2011) and Star Alliance (since 2013), Oneworld appears to be the only option.
Of Oneworld’s 14 full members, its Asia footprint is headlined by Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines, along with Malaysia Airlines and SriLankan Airlines.
Approached for comment, a Oneworld spokesperson told Executive Traveller “we are always in talks with various airlines on prospective membership, but we can't comment on any airline specifically until talks come to a conclusion.”
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.
Starlux currently flies a fleet of single-aisle Airbus A321neo jets crowned by eight fully lie-flat business class seats, but from 2022 this will be bolstered by eight Airbus A330neo jets to serve the Asia-Pacific region, alongside Airbus A350s which will feature first class and business class cabins.