Whoa: Starlux Airlines Orders Airbus A330-900neos

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Starlux Airlines, Taiwan’s new “detail oriented luxury airline, sure is countering the industry trend. Last week the airline announced it would introduce first class on its A350 fleet, and today it has been revealed that Starlux has ordered additional planes, some of which will be delivered as early as next year.

Starlux Airlines orders A330-900neo

Up until this point, Starlux Airlines had a total of 27 planes on order, including:

  • 10 Airbus A321neos
  • Nine A350-900s
  • Eight A350-1000s

Well, the airline is increasing the size of its long haul fleet by nearly 50%. Apple Daily is reporting that Starlux Airlines plans to lease eight Airbus A330-900neos, which will be delivered starting in the fourth quarter of 2021.

This will make Starlux Airlines the first Taiwanese airline to fly the A330-900neo.

What are the differences between the A330-900neo and A350-900?

  • In a typical three cabin configuration, the A330-900neo has a capacity of 260-300 people, while the A350-900 has a capacity of 300-350 people
  • The A330-900neo has a range of around 7,200 nautical miles, while the A350-900 has a range of around 8,100 nautical miles

As you can see, the A350 is larger and longer range, though the A330-900neo will do the trick in many markets.

Starlux Airlines increases A350 order, slightly delays deliveries

Starlux Airlines is also slightly increasing its A350 order — Starlux is ordering one additional A350-900, meaning the airline will eventually have a total of 10, in addition to nine A350-1000s.

Starlux will have a slight delivery delay on those, apparently not even by its own request, but rather due to Airbus’ delivery schedule. While Starlux was supposed to take delivery of A350s starting in the fourth quarter of 2021, the plan is now for Starlux to take delivery of its first A350 in the first quarter of 2022. With that timeline, Starlux would launch flights to the US west coast by the second quarter of 2022.

Starlux Airlines A350-1000

Starlux Airlines orders three additional A321neos

Starlux Airlines is also increasing its A321neo order from 10 to 13 aircraft, so that represents an additional three A321neos.

Starlux uses A321neos for regional routes, so more A321neos will allow the airline to expand its intra-Asia network. I had the chance to fly Starlux Airlines’ A321neo business class earlier this year, and it was a phenomenal experience.

Starlux Airlines A321neo

Why would Starlux Airlines order planes now?

On the surface this sure seems like a strange time to increase a plane order, especially with deliveries planned just a year from now. Why would Starlux Airlines order A330-900neos, as well as more A321neos and an extra A350-900?

My guess is that Starlux got a really good deal from Airbus. With so many airlines trying to defer or cancel deliveries, I have to imagine that Airbus is willing to offer a deal to any airline looking to take delivery in the next year. Starlux seems to be rather well funded, so I guess the airline was in a position to take advantage of that.

Bottom line

Starlux Airlines has just ordered eight A330-900neos, an additional A350-900, and three additional A321neos, increasing its fleet from 27 to 39 aircraft, which is nearly a 50% increase. The airline plans to take delivery of all of these planes by 2024.

I’m so excited for Starlux to eventually offer long haul flights, because the experience should be phenomenal.

What do you make of Starlux Airlines’ new aircraft orders?

  1. This is a genuine question, not intended to get political – do “mainland” Chinese look down on Taiwanese airlines? Would they ever fly them, or is that a big no-no? (Talking about wealthy Chinese, businessmen etc. here).

  2. I’m wondering if Starlux sees an opportunity to go after Cathay. With CX’s financial troubles, and the political changes in Hong Kong, Starlux may see an opportunity to supplant the Chinese luxury leader.

  3. @peter, I highly doubt mainland Chinese look down on Taiwanese airlines as airlines in China isn’t exactly top 10 in the world in terms of service and hardware. If a Shanghai business guy needs to fly to Taipei for work, I’m pretty sure he could careless what airline he flies with to Taipei as long as it’s nonstop and safe. People in general care about service, hardware, price, and route. Mainland Chinese are the same as everyone else in the world. The only people who cares about those political rhetorics are career politicians.

  4. Mainland Chinese can transfer via HK to the world, not so much via Taipei (As much as many people want this to happen.
    Also they’re mostly fine with Taiwan airlines as airlines stay apolitical.

  5. @Peter
    above commenters are right. In fact, very few Chinese I know have ever flown the Taiwanese airlines. Reasons? 1.They are only offering flights to Taiwan and the prices cannot compete with MU/CZ/CA/HU. 2.Mainlanders cannot transit via TPE, so unless you are specifically looking for a trip to Taiwan you cannot fly CI/BR. 3. The Taiwanese airlines do not have advertising campaign in mainland, so even fewer know about these already quite small airlines, well, small compared to the mainland giants.

  6. Makes total sense (if) Starlux was able to score a really good deal on those A330/neos. Had plans to travel to Taipei earlier this year, but that plan got scuttled obviously by COVID-19. Really hope Starlux joins an alliance and/or partners with some U.S. airlines.

  7. More than anything, I hope Taiwan will open up soon (even if there’s a 14 day quarantine in place). Wonderful country, amazing people and delicious food.

  8. A330-900neo seems like a really good fit for the busier Taiwan – Japan routes.

    And no doubt they got a really good deal on them.

    I still remember the smug face of Starlux’s CEO when they confirmed their initial Airbus purchases, which was shortly after the 737 max saga. The media asked him he was always a Boeing guy, why he went all Airbus with his own airline. He literally said it was about buying the right planes, at the right time.

  9. The market for Taiwan japan flights is huge. Taiwan actually has direct flights to 28!!! airports in japan, and there are even airports in japan where the only international flight is to Taipei (HKD for example). We’ll see if starlux can break into this market, as there are too many LCCs too.

  10. I’m very excited to see what Starlux can do in the next few years. I have more faith and belief in them more so than any other startup airline I’ve ever seen. Obviously, with EVA Air and China Airlines Taiwan already has very high standards. I hope Starlux can further bring something new to the table and innovate. As someone who travels between the US and Southeast Asia on a fairly regular basis, I do hope to see myself on a Starlux plane many times in the years to come.

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