Starlux Airlines: Taiwan’s Awesome New “Luxury” Airline

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Update: See here for a review of Starlux Airlines Lounge in Taipei, and see here for my review of Starlux Airlines’ A321neo business class. Unfortunately Starlux Airlines has now suspended operations through April 30, 2020, due to reduced demand.

Taiwan is known for having two great airlines — China Airlines and EVA Air — and in a few months a third airline will be joining the ranks. Starlux Airlines is launching operations (and their frequent flyer program) in January 2020, and they look promising.

Hell, the company’s slogan is “Born to be luxury, shining like stars,” the vision is to be “the Emirates of Taiwan,” and they describe themselves as a “detail-oriented luxury airline.”

Yes please to all of that!

What Is Starlux Airlines?

Starlux Airlines is an airline startup that has been under development for a few years now. The company is run by Chang Kuo-wei, who is the former Chairman of EVA Air, and also a 777 pilot (which is pretty awesome).

He was Chairman from 2013 until 2016, and was removed from his position after his father (who was Evergreen Group’s founder) passed away, and a brawl erupted for power.

I love the guy’s vision, and am really excited about this new airline.

Starlux Airlines’ Fleet

Unlike some other startup airlines, this one is very legitimate. Starlux Airlines has 10 A321neos on order, the first of which will be delivered shortly, and all 10 will be delivered by 2021.

Then the airline also has 17 A350s on order, with an option for 10 more. This includes:

Starlux Airlines’ Routes

Eventually the airline plans to launch long haul operations with their A350 (including to the US), but initially the airline will operate the following routes:

Starlux Airlines’ A321neo Cabins

This past week Starlux Airlines has revealed their A321neo cabins, which are designed by BMW’s Designworks Studio. They’re definitely aiming to be a premium carrier, as is the norm in the region.

In business class they’re offering eight fully flat beds that are 82″, in a 2-2 configuration. This will make them the first of Taipei’s three airlines to have flat beds on narrow body planes. Each seat will have a 15.6″ 1080p inflight entertainment system.

Economy will be in a 3-3 configuration, with 180 seats. Each seat will have a 10.1″ 720p screen, USB ports, and leather headrests.

Starlux Airlines will also offer free basic Wi-Fi to all passengers.

Starlux Airlines’ Uniforms

Not that uniforms really matter (as long as people feel proud and comfortable wearing them), but I really do like their uniforms as well.

The uniform collection is designed by Taiwanese fashion designer Sean Yin, who said the following:

“For me, STARLUX is a luxury brand — not just another airline. I wanted to combine a classical airline look with modern touches to create chic but practical fashions unlike anything that has been seen before.”

As the design is described:

The collection combines fashion elements from the 40s and 50s with space-age accents, employing natural gold and space silver tones to simultaneously evoke elegance and state-of-the-art appointments. STARLUX employees with first-hand work experience contributed to the design of the new uniforms by providing opinions and suggestions.

There are some other cool innovations:

  • The traditional pilot hat will be replaced by more casual caps
  • Both male and female cabin crew will carry the same attaché case, which can hold an iPad and A4-sized files, and can be worn either as a handbag or a crossbody bag
  • Male airport agents and cabin crew will wear collared shirts without ties
  • Badges with the slogan “safety is our attitude” are displayed on the uniforms of pilots, engineering, maintenance, and ground handling staff

Starlux Airlines’ Signature Fragrance

Like any respectable airline, Starlux will have a signature fragrance. 😉

They’re calling it “Home in the Air,” and they enlisted the help of perfume manufacturer P. SEVEN to help produce it. P. SEVEN came up with multiple formulations, and then employees voted on which of the offerings would become the signature fragrance of the airline. As the founder of P. SEVEN explains:

“Smells can be an indelible part of our memories. A certain aroma can remind you of a specific place and time. I tried to develop a fragrance that could evoke the pleasant feeling of flying with STARLUX.”

So, what should we expect from the fragrance?

“Home in the Air” evokes the tranquility of home and the expanse of the galaxy. Notes of various woods and leather have been combined to elicit the warmth of mother earth, while the aromas of iris and violets conspire to create a calm and soothing cabin environment.

Passengers will encounter the new fragrance not only on STARLUX flights but at the airline’s ticketing counters and lounges. It will also be featured in the lotion and hand wash dispensed in economy class and the hot towels used to welcome business class passengers upon boarding.

Bottom Line

I love following airline startups in general, no matter how legitimate they are (yes, I’m even looking at you, BALTIA and Global Ghana Airlines). I’m particularly excited about Starlux Airlines.

Here we have an airline that has legitimate funding, that’s founded by an experienced airline executive, and that’s countering the global trend by going over luxury rather than low cost.

Of course it remains to be seen how much of the “luxury” element is marketing rather than their actual product, though I wouldn’t be surprised if their product is really good, given the high standard for China Airlines and EVA Air.

I also love their focus on the basics, like safety and consulting their own employees on aspects of the operation, ranging from uniforms to the signature fragrance.

Anyone else excited to fly with Starlux Airlines?

  1. When I read the title, I honestly thought this was a fake or soon to fail start up. Now I have some hope that this is real. Thanks Lucky!

  2. Hmm, I don’t know… Their own fragrance? Seems they are putting too much time into things that really don’t matter…. Taiwan is a small country, 2 airlines are sufficient, will be very difficult for this new airlines to be profitable

  3. They should join oneworld in few years if they’re running successfully. (given CI in SkyTeam and BR in Star Alliance)
    Anyway, this airline do seems to be legitimate, given the founder was forcibly ousted from EVA Air while managing them.

  4. @Emily – Cathay Pacific is scared if Starlux are going to join oneworld. They run a mini-base in Taipei (even with fifth freedom TPE-ICN/KIX/NRT)

  5. Since when is China Airlines “ great” ? Good, decent, more than adequate, above average, ok+, quite acceptable…sure; “Great” is overdoing it by a significant margin ( just as you did with Garuda, although that was even more over-the-top).
    If they’re accident free for the next 10 years, they’ll have an average safety rating ( although not great).
    EVA is far closer to ‘great’ than CI.

  6. I would like them to join oneworld too, but let’s be honest, CX won’t let them.

    On the fragrance/smell thing, I usually find that having pretty average flights within the US on AA, getting back on a BA flight and hearing their boarding music really has a “I’m back home, I can relax now” kind of feeling. And the same is true with their toiletries, that smell really means I know where I am.

  7. @Adam42
    One could also state that Taiwan is part of a much larger country. 3 airlines for a tiny island does seem like a few too many, but it is a very wealthy island.

  8. My guess is that they are aiming their sights at the 1.4B Chinese mainland market connecting to global cities and gambling hubs.

    Like Emirates, they may decide they do not need to join an alliance.

  9. @M Casey
    Part of what larger country!? It is an independent state and things happening in Hong Kong is turning up the hatred toward China.

  10. @David S Starlux founder/chairman Chang stated during the uniform display that his airline will not fly to China at all, because of the ongoing tensions between the two countries.

  11. What is the difference between a startup airline and a new airline? It does not seem as though new companies appear anymore, only startups now appear. So is there a difference?

  12. With a name like STARLUX, autocorrect will be its biggest enemy, leading customers to believe they can purchase seats in tall, grande, or venti sizes.

  13. I wish them best and joining oneworld but starting airline in Aisa is brutal, even more for a non-LCC. Maybe should contract less things like fragrance?

  14. To those who said (1) Taiwan is a small contry and (2) 2 airlines are enough, place step out if your ivory tower. It has more than 2 and can still grow more airlines. Taiwan has never been an independent country, it’s always been a part (province) of Republic of China.

  15. It sounds very promising, almost too good to be true! I will definitely give this a try the next time I fly to/via Taipei!

  16. Fun food for thought: If each of the major US-based airlines had a signature fragrance, what would it be?

  17. As much as I respect the idea of operating a luxury (and not just boutique style but mainline) airline in this era, I’m not sure it is really sustainable, especially when looking at Taiwan’s current economy trend. Aiming at mainland China’s market would be an even worse strategy considering the instability between the two political powers.

  18. Should also check out how smug he looked ordering the A321neo before the grounding of the 737 max.

  19. I just booked Eva Macau-TPE in business with a flat bed and all aisle access for $300 USD. How much better can these guys be?

  20. My guess is their strategy would be feeding US customers through Taipei to Southeast Asia. Since Cathay is on a shaky ground at the moment, I can see people bypassing hkg for tpe. And who knows what’s going to happen with hkg. If Chinese army comes in, I can see people going through tpe instead of hkg. I would expect this new airline have at least EVA standard. I wonder if they will have a first class like EVA had several years ago. I hope much success to this new airline. It’s always great to have more options going to Southeast Asia especially ones that looks luxe and hopefully redeemable through coshares.

  21. Taiwan is an independent country, full-stop. All you authoritarians need to get Xi’s D out your mouth.

  22. They could pull Emirates for North America – Asia demands. This would kill many airlines around these areas.

  23. That business class seat doesn’t look particularly wide, also not sure if window seat passenger can access aisle if seats are in fully flat mode. I think Eva’s new business class looks nicer and more luxe than this one, although this new startup might be going after a more premium soft product. That must be it considering they only have 8 biz class seats on the a321

  24. Starlux looks like an awesome startup airline, and hope they can join one of the major alliances (or establish partnerships with U.S. airlines) soon. Hope they can avoid being a victim of the joke “Q: How do you make a small fortune in the airline business? A: Start with a large fortune.”

  25. Interesting Fact: The chairman (Chang) has obtained type rating for A321 and plans to be on the flight crew of the delivery flight of its first aircraft.
    As much as I think this airline is a great story and look forward to its launch, I think it will have a hard time competing against EVA and China Airlines… Taiwan is pretty small, and its role as a connecting point to Southeast Asia (and the ability to get transiting customers on its carriers) is being chipped away slowly by a number of factors.

  26. @K5c — “Taiwan has never been an independent country, it’s always been a part (province) of Republic of China.”

    … and what/where is the “Republic of China” today? Oh! It’s on the same island of Taiwan! So I guess you’re saying that Taiwan is a province of itself? Kind of circular, but whatever …
    @M Casey — “One could also state that Taiwan is part of a much larger country.”

    Do you have any legal proof that Taiwan has *ever* been a part of China? Since WW-II, when Taiwan was occupied by Japan, there has been *No* formal international treaty that has “returned” Taiwan to what is today known as PRC or “China”! Otherwise, USA can *not* have the Taiwan Relations Act in effect!
    @Shannon — “@K5c troll army is not welcomed”

    @K5c was, based on own post, referring to Republic of China (aka Taiwan) and *not* to People’s Republic of China (aka China or PRC)
    @Adam42 — “Taiwan is a small country, 2 airlines are sufficient, will be very difficult for this new airlines to be profitable”
    @Jackie — “This airline will not last long. Taiwan is a small isolates region. 2 airlines are more than enough”

    I guess many do *not* know much about Taiwan’s airlines, huh? Many think of Taiwan’s Big 2 (EVA Air and China Air) that fly all over the world, but there are also many smaller ones (LCCs) that have flown among countries in Asia (eg, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Philippines, etc) for many years!

    As for Taiwan being small and isolated, how many know that, out of SFO alone (as USA’s west coast Asia gateway), there are 5 non-stop flights daily (BR x3, CI x1, UA x1), all of them using B777-300ERs flying with high load factors (often high 80+% into 90+% and even a full 100%)?

    As for future survival of JX, this new airline is founded by the former chairman of EVA Air during its height of operations, and has a very successful and most highly regarded reputation! It is so highly regarded that BR and CX both fear defections of their most experienced staff to JX! At BR there are many who still remain loyal to their former chairman (ousted in family dispute)! At CX there are rumors that many of its experienced staff are already defecting to JX in order to escape future prosecutions in HK for supporting the democracy demonstrations there!

    With such best-of-breed pedigree, it’s highly unlikely that JX will be a failure!

  27. Sounds promising. However a signature fragrance does cause me concern. I am one of many with really bad allergies when it comes to perfumes. To have that stuff coating everything including the coach bathroom sounds like it could be 13 hours of pure torture on a trans Pacific flight.

  28. Another premium airline from Taiwan while there is no strong local LCC brand there… Yes, premium market seems fun but is very limited and honestly, I don’t see much future there. Hard to see if the founder does, as he declines any interviews for the media and unlike WOW’s Skuli Morgensen he doesn’t invest much of his own money in the project.

  29. @lucky… A Taiwanese friend of mine applied and got a a job there. It was super hard to get, as there was lots of interest among Taiwanese flight attendants from other airlines. As soon as I know more, I can ask her go a brief insight if you are interested

  30. It’s always amusing how so many people actively choose to live in denial as they prefer their own world view over reality.

    You can believe that Taiwan is part of China all you like, but the irrefutable reality is that it operates as an independent country in all respects…

  31. @Callum,

    Are you sure? The United Nations seems to think differently.

    Sixteen out of 193 UN members recognize Taiwan as independent. Plus the Holy See.

  32. @Rob_Riyadh — “The United Nations seems to think differently. Sixteen out of 193 UN members recognize Taiwan as independent. Plus the Holy See.”

    An “independent” state must exhibit these four characteristics —

    #1. Population — Taiwan has 23+ million people
    #2. Territory — Taiwan has its main island as well as some outlying smaller islands under its jurisdiction (Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu)
    #3. Government — Taiwan has had its own democratic government for decades, with diverse political parties that vie to get elected into government offices by its citizens
    #4. Sovereignty — Taiwan has its own set of statutes that are not subject to outside controls … Taiwan has its own military for self-defense … Taiwan has its own passport system that clearly represents its status as an independent state

    The practice that China and the majority of U.N. members “consider” Taiwan as “part of China” (one China principle) is irrelevant to Taiwan’s actual status as an independent state, since that claim is an overtly political issue, rather than a factual fulfillment of the above-listed four defining characteristics that legally represent an actual independent state!

    Furthermore … there has been *no* internationally recognized treaty or agreement that the status of Taiwan, occupied as Japanese territory during the WW-II era, got formally and legally designated as being part of mainland China (PRC) after Japan lost that war, since the island was “given” over to the Republic of China (RoC), which now resides on the island of Taiwan, anyway!

    If Taiwan were to, de facto, actually be a part of China, then how can USA sustain its policy of the Taiwan Relations Act? Is there any circumstance where a foreign power (USA) can directly sell military weapons and systems to a province of another country (China)? How can that possibly work?

  33. All these Taipei is a small country comments… Physically sure. Population wise? Not at all, the UAE has 4 established airlines with just over a quarter of Taipei’s population. Airlines also make substantial revenue from connecting passengers not just residents of the hub.

  34. Sounds like BillC is the chief marketing officer for Starlux. Since, when is HK an independent country @BillC? Hong Kong is a city in China, not an independent state.

  35. @Stanley Taiwan is not HK. And HK is not just a city in China. It is SAR.
    @ Robert Schrader you told the truth +1

  36. @Stanley — “Since, when is HK an independent country @BillC? Hong Kong is a city in China, not an independent state.”

    @Shannon is exactly correct! Where did I ever mention that Hong Kong is an independent country, anyway? It doesn’t even fulfill the four basic requirements to qualify as such!

  37. @Shannon, yes, HK SAR, but nonetheless it is still a city within China. It may be granted a more special status, but it is still a city.

    @BillC I should have separated my lines better as that was not directed exactly at you…..

  38. @ BillC ….. Outstanding summaries.

    @ Lucky …. The route to Penang excites me the most. Big questions are what their fares will be and what airline alliance if any do they join?

  39. Can we forget about the Taiwan part of China debate and get back to the new airlines?

    It looks good, but those initial routes are a disaster for a luxury airlines. Only Macau will have a reasonable load factor- Penang and Da Nang are secondary markets with only significant leisure (aka LCC) traffic.

    Even if they get their transpacific routes up and running, who’s going to transit to those destinations? Consider me a skeptic until they secure better routes (Singapore/Bangkok/KL/Hong Kong)

    Finally for a Taiwan based airlines to rule out flying to China seems crazy- it’s probably over 50% of the current traffic

  40. @George — “Penang and Da Nang are secondary markets with only significant leisure (aka LCC) traffic.”

    Taiwan has a “look southward” policy to try and diversify away from its prior over-dependence on China for business. This entails bidirectional goals — one is to develop manufacturing supply chains outside of China (also to escape USA’s tariff war with China) and the other is to encourage more tourists to visit Taiwan from SE Asian countries. Penang happens to be Malaysia’s Silicon Valley, so that might be a possible supply chain replacement location. Da Nang appears to be an up-and-coming city in central Vietnam. Many Taiwan companies also do business in Vietnam, so perhaps Da Nang can be an initial “gateway” into Vietnam for Starlux? I agree that it will be advantageous to secure more “mainstream” destinations, but give them some time to build out their flight network! They *do* have plans to reach North America after receiving their A350s! 🙂

  41. While EVA and China Airlines dominate the skies across Taiwan, this new airline will be the fourth regional airline for the country, excluding the Uni Air and Mandarin Airline subsidiaries. Far Eastern Air Transport (FAT) is still there, possibly on life support but still active from Taiwan to regional destinations. It will be interesting on how Starlux impacts on the FAT’s market share, rather then the two larger airlines.

  42. Looking to the TPE-PEN route, it’s more viable than HKG-PEN. Most of the Chinese descendants in PEN speak Fujian aka Hokkien, which is mutually intelligable to Taiwanese speakers. Cantonese speakers in Penang are few and hence the HKG-PEN route operated by CX attached KUL in their circle trip to fill up their planes.

  43. As if it weren’t awsome enough, the Chairman himself delivered both of the first two aircraft in their fleet, and also was the pilot of the inaugural flight. 🙂

    As low as the chance is, I really hope JX could join oneworld, and become a power to rival BR and CI.

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