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StarLux Airlines eyes transit market in Asia: chairman

2018/05/08 18:35:43

Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒)

Taipei, May 8 (CNA) StarLux Airlines, which was established last week, is eyeing the transit market in Asia in the initial stages of its operation, as well as high-end travelers, its chairman, Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒), said Tuesday.

"The Taiwanese market itself is too small, so we need to focus on the transit sector to play big," said Chang, a former EVA Airways chairman.

There is still room for growth in the transit market, said StarLux President Glenn Chai (翟健華), adding that the Asia-Pacific region will play a bigger role in the global aviation market in the coming years.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), by 2035, 40 percent of a total of 7.2 billion global passengers will be traveling across the area, compared with 30 percent of 3.8 billion passengers in 2016.

Chang said direct competitors for StarLux will be other airlines strong in the transit sector, including Cathay Pacific and Singapore airlines, as well as Taiwan-based China Airlines and EVA Airways.

He said StarLux will likely cover cargo business as well, but has shown little interest in joining any of the global aviation alliances in its initial stage of operations.

Chang also confirmed that former EVA Airways president Cheng Chuan-yi (鄭傳義) will serve as Starlux vice chairman.

Currently with 150 employees and registered capital of NT$30 billion (US$1 billion), StarLux is expected to employ around 7,000 employees within 10 years, Chai said.

StarLux will seek to differentiate itself from its competitors by targeting high-end travelers through introducing more modern services and reacting more flexibly to passengers' needs, as it is a relatively new airline that does not have outdated standard operating procedures, Chang said.

The airline will fly to Northeast and Southeast Asian countries first, with Japan "definitely one of our destinations," he said.

In two to three years, Chang said, he will develop a North American market, starting with the U.S. west coast.

StarLux said it will initially operate 10 Airbus A321neo narrow- body aircraft on lease, with the first to be delivered in October 2019.

In addition, the airline said, it is currently in the final stages of evaluation and selection for an additional 14 wide-body aircraft, and will take delivery of the first of those by the end of 2021.

With three A321neo aircraft flying the initial routes from Taipei to Southeast and Northeast Asian destinations, the carrier said, its fleet will include up to 24 aircraft by the end of 2024, serving over 20 destinations in Asia and North America.

Chang was chairman of EVA Air from 2013-2016, when he was ousted in a battle over control of the company following the death of his father, Evergreen Group founder Chang Jung-fa (張榮發).

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)