Starlux’s delayed flights to the United States look set to begin in early 2023, with the latest reports from the Taiwanese carrier saying Los Angeles International Airport would start hosting Starlux flights shortly after the 2023 Chinese Lunar New Year in late January. Starlux had planned on US-bound flights shortly after its first intra-Asia flight launched in 2020, but the pandemic and ongoing travel restrictions, particularly in North Asia, derailed those plans.
Starlux firms up on a Q1 2023 start for Los Angeles flights
In the latest update reported by CAPA on Thursday, Starlux spokesperson Nieh Kuo-wei flagged the post-Lunar New Year timeframe. Previously, the airline had proposed a June 2022 start date for Taipei – Los Angeles flights using Airbus A350-900 equipment. However, the lingering after-effects of the pandemic meant that the June flights never took off. Notably, no A350s have arrived at the airline yet either.
More recently, Starlux had started recruiting US-based airport operations and sales staff via its social media channels. In 2021, the airline applied to the US Department of Transportation to fly to 15 US cities. StarLux would join local airlines EVA Air and China Airlines flying the Taipei (TPE) – Los Angeles (LAX) route. No US carriers fly non-stop between the two cities, although United Airlines does offer a Taipei – San Francisco (SFO) service with LAX connections.
The latest from Starlux Airlines is a Q1 2023 start date for Los Angeles flights. Photo: Starlux Airlines
Reports confused concerning inbound Starlux aircraft
StarLux currently operates nine A321neo and two A330neo planes. More planes are inbound this year, including the first of 17 Airbus A350-900s on order. There are conflicting reports about exactly how many planes StarLux is taking this year. CAPA’s report says 13 new planes, including seven A321neos. According to the latest Airbus orders and deliveries report, as of June 30, only the A350-900s remain outstanding. However, many of Starlux’s aircraft are leased, confusing the picture concerning exactly what planes are coming from where and when.
A Taiwan-based news outlet quoted Nieh Kuo-wei last month saying that the airline “planned” to take delivery of five Airbus A321neos, two A330neos, and two A350-900s. However, the same outlet did not nominate a timeframe. But the outlet did confirm CAPA’s report that Starlux planned to launch Los Angeles flights in the first quarter of 2023.
Starlux is keeping its fleet of A321neos (pictured) busy flying around Asia. Photo: Starlux
Starlux builds its intra-Asian frequencies
Meanwhile, after a shaky pandemic start, Starlux is ramping up its flying. On Wednesday, the airline posted online its latest intra-Asia frequencies. Aside from its Taipei home base, StarLux is flying to 10 cities in Asia. Still impacted by inbound travel restrictions, services to Tokyo Narita (NRT) and Fukuoka (FUK) are twice weekly, while Osaka (KIX) does slightly better with four times a week flights.
Penang (PEN) also sees three Starlux flights a week, while Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur (KUL), handles four Starlux flights a week. A short hop south, Singapore’s Changi Airport (SIN) also receives four StarLux flights a week. Manila (MNL) has five flights a week, while Macau MFM), Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK), and Ho Chi Minh (SGN) all get daily Starlux flights.
So far, Starlux has not ventured further than Asia, with the Los Angeles-bound flights representing the airline’s first foray further afield. In addition to the United States, Starlux Airlines has also previously expressed interest in flying to Europe.