Will Starlux Airlines Join The Oneworld Alliance?

Will Starlux Airlines Join The Oneworld Alliance?

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Taiwan’s Starlux Airlines is a fast growing airline that was founded just before the pandemic. The airline now has A321neos, A330-900neos, and A350-900s, and is quickly expanding, with service to Los Angeles expected to launch later this month.

Up until now, one major challenge that Starlux has faced is a lack of airline partners, limiting the carrier’s reach beyond its own route network. That raises an interesting question — could we see Starlux join one of the global alliances?

Starlux Airlines is a natural fit for oneworld

If Starlux were to join a global alliance, I think it goes without saying that it would be oneworld. That’s due to the competitive landscape in Taiwan — China Airlines belongs to SkyTeam, and EVA Air belongs to Star Alliance. There’s no way either of those alliances would have two airlines from Taiwan, so the logical development would be for Starlux to join oneworld.

It would be great if Starlux joined the oneworld alliance!

For the most part, the global alliances have lost a bit of steam in the past decade, as we’ve seen fewer airlines added than when alliances were still a newer concept. Airlines have largely instead focused on joint ventures and other kinds of partnerships.

@IshrionA points out that Starlux is planning a partnership with Alaska Airlines for connectivity in Los Angeles, and also that Starlux plans to use the oneworld Lounge at LAX. Does this point to Starlux joining the oneworld alliance? As nice it would be, there’s one major issue…

Why Starlux Airlines may not join oneworld

I’m sure Starlux would love to join the oneworld alliance. I’m sure the oneworld alliance would love for Starlux to join. There’s only one major issue — veto rights.

The oneworld alliance has four founding airlines that are still in business, including American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas. One of the perks of being a founding member of the alliance is that you get veto rights on new members joining.

As you can imagine, this can create a conflict of interest — it could be in the best interest of the alliance at large for a new member to join, while an individual founding member might not view it that way.

It seems highly likely to me that Cathay Pacific would veto Starlux joining the alliance:

  • Taiwan and Hong Kong are very close to one another geographically, and the airlines potentially compete in quite a few markets
  • Keep in mind that American Airlines invested in China Southern, and China Southern left SkyTeam, but the airline hasn’t joined oneworld; I suspect that’s for the same reason, which is that Cathay Pacific didn’t want the airline to join, given how close Guangzhou is to Hong Kong
I don’t think Cathay Pacific wants Starlux to join oneworld

Really the alliance veto rights that founding airlines have is probably the biggest thing standing in the way of alliances growing. For example, Alaska only joined the oneworld alliance a couple of years back, and that was only possible because of American’s support, as the two airlines launched a close partnership.

I think at best, perhaps Starlux could become a oneworld Connect airline, which is a watered down membership concept. That essentially recognizes that several oneworld airlines partner with a particular airline, but alliance-wide perks don’t apply.

On the plus side, with a partnership planned between Alaska and Starlux, here’s to hoping the two airlines at least allow reciprocal mileage earning and redemption opportunities, especially given Starlux’s premium cabin pricing.

Alaska & Starlux are planning a partnership

Bottom line

Starlux Airlines would be a logical fit for the oneworld alliance, given that the carrier’s two competitors in Taiwan belong to SkyTeam and Star Alliance. As much as I’d love for this to happen, unfortunately I think it’s pretty unlikely.

That’s because Cathay Pacific is a founding member of oneworld, and has veto rights on any new members. Airlines tend to want to prevent competitors from joining their alliance. So just as Cathay Pacific didn’t want China Southern to join oneworld, I imagine the airline will have similar feelings about Starlux joining.

Who knows, maybe Cathay Pacific’s thinking has evolved post-pandemic. After all, the world has changed quite a bit, and we’ve seen some things that seemed inconceivable five years ago, from Emirates and United partnering, to American and JetBlue partnering.

What do you make of the prospect of Starlux joining oneworld?

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  1. RJ Guest

    Would love to see STARLUX join ONEWORLD and most definitely establish ties with both Alaska and American in the US Market. Cathay Pacific has good service to Taipei but ONEWORLD needs further coverage in Yaiwan and throughout Asia.

  2. Ron Guest

    Today after Starlux made its maiden flight to Los Angeles, Kuo Wei Chang stated that Starlux would love to join in Oneworld.

    You can hear it in 0:35
    https://youtu.be/lQUZ8Kd9DQo

  3. ernestnywang Member

    It is interesting to note Starlux's Reservation Booking Designator (RBD) is exactly like CX's and very similar to most oneworld members': FAJCDWREYBHKMLVSNQ. This means Starlux had the plan to work with oneworld since its inception.

  4. GARY PASH Guest

    Cathey Pacific's service sucks. Used to be the best. Now horrible. Connections in HK are horrible

  5. Reed Guest

    I hope Starlux Airlines does join Oneworld Alliance.

  6. Amt Guest

    These airlines need to stop partnering with Alaska for premium international travel. It’s a domestic bus.

    It’s just ridiculous, they don’t understand international baggage allowance, they won’t issue connecting boarding passes at outstations, you can’t check in or view your booking online, you can’t reserve a seat or meal so get stuck with what’s left and half their gate staff don’t know what JAL is or realize they sell connecting tickets…

    American needs...

    These airlines need to stop partnering with Alaska for premium international travel. It’s a domestic bus.

    It’s just ridiculous, they don’t understand international baggage allowance, they won’t issue connecting boarding passes at outstations, you can’t check in or view your booking online, you can’t reserve a seat or meal so get stuck with what’s left and half their gate staff don’t know what JAL is or realize they sell connecting tickets…

    American needs to acquire it and bring it up to oneworld standard or dump the partnership.

  7. Mancho Guest

    I don't see an issue with Starlux and CX because CX had codeshare agreements with China Airlines before pandemic, I am not sure how it was but I never got my miles in AA despite my flight had CX from TPE to HKG back in 2019. Remember that CX has codeshare agreements with Star Alliance LH, AC, CA, LX, OA probably due to CA 17.5% in CX, then the Beijing government has stakes in the...

    I don't see an issue with Starlux and CX because CX had codeshare agreements with China Airlines before pandemic, I am not sure how it was but I never got my miles in AA despite my flight had CX from TPE to HKG back in 2019. Remember that CX has codeshare agreements with Star Alliance LH, AC, CA, LX, OA probably due to CA 17.5% in CX, then the Beijing government has stakes in the airline... This might cause a veto, due to all political issues between Beijing and Taipei.

    1. ernestnywang Member

      CX did not have codeshare agreements with CI, at least in the past 3 decades. CX and CI do have a joint-venture catering service based in TPE.

  8. CK Guest

    Speculation. All I hear/read about Starlux is pure speculation. Take a trip on Starlux & let us know how it goes.

  9. RF Diamond

    I hope Starlux does join OneWorld. An alliance membership would benefit it greatly. Looking forward to seeing more posts & reviews on this airline.

  10. STEFFL Diamond

    @Ben . . . your phantasies are going WILD again! You got some points, yes . . . . but STARLUX i guess is NOT interested on ANY Alliance at all, just like EMIRATES.
    BUT, funny . . . . to see, how your mind is working. :-)

    1. KATA Gold

      https://www.executivetraveller.com/news/will-starlux-join-the-oneworld-airline-alliance

      “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.”

  11. Eskimo Guest

    How can you forget the 'veto' power.

    They just follow UN who are tools to legitimize Western Democracy propaganda, but the Imperialist superpowers have a veto backdoor that supersedes democracy. Excuses like fighting Communism or Terrorism are just a cover for Imperialism.

    If UN was a few hundred years older, it would have been Dutch, Spain, and Ottoman with veto powers instead of United States.
    If Germany won the war, would have been Germany,...

    How can you forget the 'veto' power.

    They just follow UN who are tools to legitimize Western Democracy propaganda, but the Imperialist superpowers have a veto backdoor that supersedes democracy. Excuses like fighting Communism or Terrorism are just a cover for Imperialism.

    If UN was a few hundred years older, it would have been Dutch, Spain, and Ottoman with veto powers instead of United States.
    If Germany won the war, would have been Germany, Italy, and Japan instead of US UK or France.

    It's the victors who write history and laws, not democracy, equality, liberty, justice, or rights.
    Never was, never will be. Only propaganda power allows it.

    Starlux will have to live with the CX bully and will never join Oneworld. What a wonderful democracy.

    1. T- Guest

      You are only partially correct. Long live Democracy!

    2. Eskimo Guest

      @T-

      Propaganda only partially works.

    3. Wolff13 Gold

      Your analogy is awful: china and russia have veto powers at the UN and they aren’t considered beacons of freedom; besides, the UN is useless these days.

  12. nohohon Guest

    Qantas is partnered with China Airlines though, which could potentially throw a spanner in the works.

    Otherwise. could end up with another Qantas/Qatar/Emirates situation.

  13. Stanley Morris Guest

    It's time for the USA to end Cathay's access to the USA.

    1. Wolff13 Gold

      And all chinese carriers.

  14. klax1 Guest

    Still not sure if it's funny or kind of sad how much time you've spent writing about Starlux and how "awesome" and "premium" they are... then spin your wheels freaking out about the pricing and US connectivity? Just give it a rest, man, and cover it like another airline instead of constantly initiating the Starlux conversation

    1. Matt Guest

      Is it possible that Ben is getting paid by Starlux to write these stories? Usually he discloses fees for credit card applications but he is obsessively writing about Starlux.

    2. Andrew Diamond

      What's sad is how little other news there is in the airline world. It's rare that a *nice*, *new* airline that *actually flies* ever happens. I like that he's covering it.

      Lots of negative things to cover, but it's good to have some positive development, IMO.

  15. D3kingg Guest

    A mixed ticket with AA and JAL to SE Asia works for me. Done with HKG so no need for CX and unless Starlux has a fifth freedom flight like JFK LHR I’m not going to Taiwan. So Starlux joining OW is a hard PASS. Still have no idea why in the world AA partnered with B6.

  16. Amritpal Singh Guest

    Desperately needed — OW footprint in Asia is pathetic now.

    - AA barely operates any intl flights anymore — gone are asia flights from LAX
    - AS is totally domestic with no ambitions to do so
    - JAL isn't what it was before bankruptcy + COVID and continues to be a shadow of it's former self
    - Similar story from Cathay

    OW needs a strong Asian carrier. Perhaps they should consider an affiliate membership with Indigo as well.

    1. Stuart Guest

      To be honest, it's one of the reasons (among others) I defected to United and Star Alliance last year after 20 years with AA. And I'm glad I did. Much better options overall to Asia and Europe as a Gold and 1K vs Emerald and EP.

      At this point, the only reason I see for anyone to stick with OneWorld are the excellent redemptions available on QR. And the odd and reasonable redemption in JAL F (which I agree is not at all what it was as an airline pre-covid).

    2. D3kingg Guest

      @Amritpal Singh

      American needs Doug Parker back. Also remember American has a shortage of wide body aircraft with the delayed Boeing deliveries . If only they hadn’t retired the a330 and 767 already. They’d be flying to Europe and South America for sure.

    3. Mike Guest

      Spot on. I just returned from a trip to Europe on JAL and the airline has really gone downhill. Very sad, esepcially given how gracious and professional the crew is.
      You have forgotten to include Malaysian in your comments, but I can;t blame you for forgetting ;)

    4. Al Guest

      Could you say more about what was disappointing with the flight, as they're presumably still flying the same long-haul planes and you had positive comments about the crew? Thanks!

    5. Andrew Diamond

      @Mike - OMG I took Malaysian in 2022 from SIN -> KUL. How the mighty have fallen! The flight aside, forgot to credit my paid-first class reservation and it turns out they don't honor missing mileage requests after 60 days have lapsed. What a scene.

    6. Wolff13 Gold

      No one makes money from LAX to china, since chinese carriers sell their tickets way below cost, but then again, that’s what china does.

  17. eponymous coward Guest

    Partnership with… Alaska?

    “Nah, it’s way more important to get our Taiwanese and Asia connecting passengers to Loreto and Cabo than Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix, Austin, Atlanta.”

    Absolutely weird that if you were shooting for something in OW you wouldn’t be getting AA in the mix. A lot of Alaska’s traffic in LAX is as a Mexico scissors hub, that’s literally going to generate ZERO traffic compared to major metros AA serves. Ok, Seattle, Portland, SF,...

    Partnership with… Alaska?

    “Nah, it’s way more important to get our Taiwanese and Asia connecting passengers to Loreto and Cabo than Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix, Austin, Atlanta.”

    Absolutely weird that if you were shooting for something in OW you wouldn’t be getting AA in the mix. A lot of Alaska’s traffic in LAX is as a Mexico scissors hub, that’s literally going to generate ZERO traffic compared to major metros AA serves. Ok, Seattle, Portland, SF, sure, but this is gonna be your ONE major US destination for a bit, you sure you wouldn’t like to be able to connect passengers out of or to DFW or ORD?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ eponymous coward -- I'd guess American isn't open to a partnership as of now. The airline has its own transpacific flights, and has a transpacific joint venture with Japan Airlines. Any revenue from filling a few domestic seats would be minimal, so I think there's not enough upside for American. That's something Alaska has historically been much more open to, which is why we see Alaska partner with several non-oneworld airlines.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Jan -- I've written about Starlux three times in the past two months, admittedly all in the past couple of weeks. But that's because the airline is about to launch transpacific flights. It seems easy enough to skip the posts if they don't interest you, no? I'm pretty transparent in the headline what the post is about...

    2. Amritpal Singh Guest

      Ben, — another comment from the peanut gallery, but... I personally don't think you post enough about starlux. In my honest opinion, this is a sleeping giant. You should review their TPAC flights ASAP when you're able to book one.

    3. D3kingg Guest

      Yes. From the photos Ben has shared of Starlux in the past it is worth writing about. It looks luxurious.

  18. Stuart Guest

    I'm far more concerned with the actual viability of this airline to survive. Taiwan has a population of roughly 20M people. The possibility of the island to sustain three airlines is really remote. Something has to give. As well they are choosing routes heavily contested for premium passengers and serviced already with some really good products. My feeling is that they would have been much better off focusing on specialty leisure routes that might be...

    I'm far more concerned with the actual viability of this airline to survive. Taiwan has a population of roughly 20M people. The possibility of the island to sustain three airlines is really remote. Something has to give. As well they are choosing routes heavily contested for premium passengers and serviced already with some really good products. My feeling is that they would have been much better off focusing on specialty leisure routes that might be underserved so as to gradually build up recognition and a bit more following.

    Hub and spoke? Well, the only connectivity so far is going to be to/from LA which is so dominated already with endless possibilities. Including many non stops to markets that used to need it, i.e. SIN.

    I just don't see how Starlux will survive - and I doubt they will make it long enough to join an alliance.

    1. S_LEE Gold

      I think Starlux is gonna be merged with Eva Air in the future. Chang Kuo-wei, the founder of Starlux and ex-exec of Eva Air, is one of the "princes" of Evergreen group. He was kicked out of Evergreen group after a management dispute between brothers and founded Starlux by himself.
      However, their relationships are getting better, and he was appointed the chairman of Uni Air, a subsidiary of Eva Air. He resigned a few...

      I think Starlux is gonna be merged with Eva Air in the future. Chang Kuo-wei, the founder of Starlux and ex-exec of Eva Air, is one of the "princes" of Evergreen group. He was kicked out of Evergreen group after a management dispute between brothers and founded Starlux by himself.
      However, their relationships are getting better, and he was appointed the chairman of Uni Air, a subsidiary of Eva Air. He resigned a few months later, but it shows that Starlux and Evergreen group still have some connections.
      As you said, the time will come when both Starlux and Eva Air realize they cannot survive separately.

    2. starwalker Member

      I wouldn't say their relationship has gone better, if not worse, KW Chang recently filed a new lawsuit over inheritance, and he also took the role of chairman at Uni Air with the plan to merge the airline and rebrand it as Starlux Express, which he left when he failed.

    3. Chris W Guest

      Agreed. I don't know why such a small country thinks they would need 3 premium long-haul airlines...

  19. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    I REALLY hope they do join! I'm a OW Loyalist and the map has alot of holes in it now (North and South Asia, South America, Africa, etc...).

    Lucky, can you do a post on AerLingus history with OneWorld? Why were they a member, then left, then bought by IAG, then joined the OW Transatlantic JV, but STILL haven't joined as even a "Connect" partner??? Seems like a natural fit to me, and very, very odd given the history there.

    1. eponymous coward Guest

      I wouldn't hold my breath on Starlux starting on that TPE-JNB/ADD route.

  20. tom Guest

    CX would definitely veto, apart from blocking a competitor they also need to avoid punishment from China

    1. Glen Guest

      The question is why CX remains in oneworld themselves. Wasn't there rumor a few years ago that they were looking to jump ship to *A due to CA ownership?

    2. EK Guest

      if this is the case, China Southern already joined OW long time ago

    3. Leo Liang Guest

      Under CSN current leadership(Ma accountant, 马会计) CSN will never join oneworld as Dear Accountant only cares about transforming CSN into a boutique airline for Premium pax and cost effectiveness for econ, and doesn't care about global image or FFP whatsoever unlike the previous leadership

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KATA Gold

https://www.executivetraveller.com/news/will-starlux-join-the-oneworld-airline-alliance “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.”

5
Andrew Diamond

What's sad is how little other news there is in the airline world. It's rare that a *nice*, *new* airline that *actually flies* ever happens. I like that he's covering it. Lots of negative things to cover, but it's good to have some positive development, IMO.

5
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Jan -- I've written about Starlux three times in the past two months, admittedly all in the past couple of weeks. But that's because the airline is about to launch transpacific flights. It seems easy enough to skip the posts if they don't interest you, no? I'm pretty transparent in the headline what the post is about...

4
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