StarLux mulling further postponement of U.S. service

05/02/2021 04:41 PM
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File photo courtesy of StarLux Airlines
File photo courtesy of StarLux Airlines

Taipei, May 2 (CNA) Taiwan-based StarLux Airlines Co. said Sunday it is considering pushing back the start date for its flights to the the United States, from 2022 to 2023, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airline spokesperson Nieh Kuo-wei (聶國維) told CNA that while the carrier recently obtained permission from the U.S. to fly there, it has had to reconsider the launch date for the service.

After StarLux got the green light from the U.S., it had planned its inaugural flight on that route for June 2022, but it pushed back the date to the end of 2022, due to the pandemic, Nieh said.

"Now, with the pandemic still persisting, the launch of flights on the American route may be postponed further until 2023," he said.

Nonetheless, the new airline, which began operations in January 2020, is continuing its staff recruitment as planned, according to Nieh.

In terms of its fleet, four of the 13 single-aisle A321neo jetliners it is leasing are already in service, while another six or seven will be delivered by the end of the year, and others by 2022, he said.

The airline will also least eight wide-body A330-900neo jet airliners, the first of which is expected to be delivered by the end of this year, Nieh said.

Further down the road, he said, Starlux will have a total of 18 long-range wide-body A350 jets -- 10 A350-900s and eight A350-1000s -- either purchased or leased.

StarLux was founded in May 2018 by Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒), a former chairman of EVA Airways, one of Taiwan's two leading international carriers.

Promoted as a luxury airline, StarLux currently holds the right to operate flights to several regional destinations, including Macau, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan.

Last year, the carrier gained approval from Taiwan's Ministry of Transportation and Communication to offer regular flights on 15 routes to the U.S., and it recently obtained an operation license from American authorities.

Nieh said the airline plans to use different aircraft models on the U.S. route, and all the flights from Taiwan will depart from Taoyuan International Airport.

The A350-900s will ply the routes to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Guam, Honolulu, Seattle, San Jose, and Ontario; and the A350-1000s will fly to New York (JFK and Newark), Washington D.C., Houston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Boston, he said.

When the U.S. service begins, the first flight will be to Los Angeles on the West Coast, and the opening of the other routes will depend on the market, Neih said.

(By Wang Shu-fen and Elizabeth Hsu)

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