Cebu Will Be Starlux Airlines’ Fourth Destination

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Update: Starlux Airlines has now suspended operations through April 30, 2020, due to reduced demand.

Starlux Airlines is the exciting new airline based in Taipei that’s launching operations this week. Tickets for their flights went on sale in mid-December, and they’re commencing service this Thursday, January 23, 2020.

Starlux Airlines’ long term plans

Starlux Airlines hopes to become a global airline, and will grow quickly. The airline has 10 A321neos on order, all of which are expected to be delivered by 2021. On top of that, the airline has 17 A350s on order, which will be delivered starting in 2021.

Starlux Airlines’ future A350s

The CEO of the airline is the former CEO of EVA Air, and also an airline pilot. After he was ousted from his role at EVA Air, he decided to start his own airline.

As of January 23 the airline will start flying from Taipei to Da Nang, Macau, and Penang.

Starlux Airlines will fly to Cebu

Starlux Airlines has just revealed their fourth destination. Starlux Airlines will start flying daily between Taipei and Cebu, Philippines, as of April 6, 2020. The flight will be operated daily with the following schedule using an A321neo:

JX781 Taipei to Cebu departing 3:15PM arriving 6:10PM
JX782 Cebu to Taipei departing 7:15PM arriving 10:00PM

This ~1,032 mile flight is blocked at 2hr55min southbound and 2hr45min northbound.

Starlux Airlines’ route network

Starlux Airlines’ confusing long term strategy

While I love the concept behind Starlux Airlines, and while I can’t wait to fly them next week, I also can’t wrap my head around their business model.

Here we have a self proclaimed “detail-oriented luxury airline,” and their business model seems to be operating flights from Taipei to leisure destinations in Asia.

It’s one thing if that was the end goal, but how exactly will this tie into their long haul route network? Will they keep expanding exclusively to leisure destinations within Asia, and if so, how will that complement their long haul routes?

Will their goal be to offer one-stop service from, say, Los Angeles, to Cebu, Macau, Penang, etc.? If so, I don’t see the business case for that. Transpacific fares are already quite low nowadays due to capacity dumping from mainland Chinese carriers, so I could see some merit to the network if they had at least some premium markets in which they operated.

But their exclusive focus on leisure destinations is an interesting one. It’s one thing if they intended to be an ultra low cost carrier, but they’re marketing themselves as a “luxury” airline while flying to low yield destinations.

Starlux Airlines’ A321neo business class

It will be interesting to see if they will maintain this strategy long term, or if they adjust their strategy once they get long haul aircraft.

Bottom line

Starlux Airlines is expanding quickly in short haul markets, as the airline will fly to four destinations from Taipei by April 2020. To me the big question is what the long term strategy is for the airline, when they also add long haul routes.

Can anyone make sense of how their focus on leisure destinations fits into their long-term plans to offer intercontinental flights?

  1. Could they be starting with leisure destinations to build a consumer base and market share then pivot to focus on corporate travelers?

  2. It would be great if you also do a review of Cebu Airport in the Philippines. It’s a modern airport, and by all accounts a joy as an entry point or as a domestic transfer point (especially going to beach destinations in Palawan, Siargao, Bohol, etc.). I always provide a warning to friends who are visiting to make sure that they pad their schedules if they need to transit in between MNL terminals. It can really be quite a mess, giving people an unwelcome first and/or last impression of my home country.

  3. Perhaps their looking to introduce people to the brand through leisure destinations and then expand into bigger markets once they gain a bit more brand recognition.

  4. Cebu is a growing market for Chinese, Korean, and Japanese businessmen due to cheap labor and real estate. Iā€™ve been to Cebu several times in the past 2 years and see many foreign-owned businesses and factories springing up. Itā€™s also a much better location to fly into compared to MNL for most tourists since itā€™s closer to the beaches (Mactan, Palawan, Bohol, etc) and is just a much better experience than the MNL airport and city itself.

  5. I had a house South of Cebu for 2 years for all of the reasons listed above. It was a nice break from Manila and all the issues there. I would have stayed but my wife’s work is acting so I was forced to go back to the traffic and mess in Quezon.
    The new International Airport is so nice compared to anything else in the country. The city is growing, as flow states above with International Investment, and development.

  6. @captain happy, one of our offices was in Quzeon City. What a nightmare getting back to Makati each day (one time it took 3 hours!!).

    I agree – Cebu is a becoming a popular destination for businesses to invest in as it is low cost (lots of call centres) so actually makes total sense – especially when taking clients there.

  7. Just because mainland Chinese airlines are capacity dumping, that does not mean everyone’s out looking for the cheapest fare.

    This is especially true when it comes to luxury and corporate travel, these travelers care about the soft product and experience. They want to fly nonstop to Taipei or have easy and enjoyable transit experiences on the ground before their final destination. All of these aforementioned just do not exist with Chinese airlines and airports. Both EVA and China Airlines (not Air China) provide excellent on-board soft product and services.

    Many SE Asians (Vietnamese/Filipino/Thai/Indonesian/etc) fly thru Taipei for their trip home. They do not like flying thru China because transit immigration is an arduous hassle compared to Taipei, but most importantly they do not like to be discriminated and looked down upon by the Chinese ground staff and flight attendants.

    Flying thru Taipei is a good combination of price and experience, especially for economy and premium economy class flyers. CX and SQ provides great soft products as well, but cannot compete price-wise with BR and CI.

    Chang knows all this from his experience with BR. With the added fuel of how he was ousted by EVA, and the fact that he is a pilot himself and not just a clueless businessman (he delivered the first A321neo himself and has said he would like to deliver as many as possible), I have no doubt he will guide this the right way.

    As with FF membership, one world is the only big one that has no footprint in Taiwan, but I think CX might have a problem with that. I would personally love to see individual partnerships with VS, AS and Emirates~

  8. They can only fly these destinations because they don’t have rights to fly to HKG/ICN/PVG/CAN/PEK/PKX/SGN/MNL/HAN which they want to fly to but can’t. BKK/SIN/NRT have no limit but they are not interested in.
    They are working on getting rights to fly to these countries, however, BR and CI would try to block JX as possible.
    Leisure route means they can cut it anytime unlike business route.
    Their goal is to transport southeast Asia travelers to US after they get A359 since US sky is open to them.

  9. We recently bought a house in Argos near Cebu. The new airport is very nice compared to the old terminal

  10. A link to the Starlux in the article without have been great.
    Cebu to Taipei on EVA was very a pleasant experience in October and would do it again if the direct flight to Narita is too high priced.
    Long time Mactan Resident.

  11. Cebu Mactan Airport is great. The domestic terminal has been refurbished. The international one fairly new and is a breeze to use. Very efficient staff Even the cleaning staff greet you with a good afternoon/day sir or madam

  12. Yes please do an article on in my opinion Manila as the worst international airport in the world followed by Shanghai pudong. I would love to hear comments from the airport on how the second , third and fourth xray machines work better than 1 or 2 at the most. How the gun or bomb that made it through the first xray machine will get caught on maybe the 2nd , 3rd or 4th xray machine. How their security is so redundant that travelers can’t purchase a soda and bag of chips and sit in the waiting area to board? You would think that they sell illegal items with no security check for in airport vendors. Salty you say , yes I am.

  13. JXā€™s most urgent task at this moment I believe is ensure good cash flow as the airline is still at its baby stage. Taiwan has a good enough demand into these leisure cities that can help support JX in its first 2 years at least but for sure Chang would want to expand into USA asap. Itā€™s reasonable JX long term goal to be a trans pacific luxurious connection provider to these leisure destinations. AA, UA or AC is doing a poor job in service, and JL, NH or KE may not be cost efficient enough to even fly into these cities. The biggest competition may come from CX+KA/CI/BR, I couldnā€™t identify yet how JX can have an advantage over them

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