Taiwan’s new luxury carrier, Starlux Airlines, has placed an order for eight Airbus A330-900neos, The aircraft, which Starlux plans to lease, will be delivered starting from fourth quarter of 2021.
The A330-900neo has a capacity for 260-300 people depending on class configuration with a range of around 7200 nautical miles.
Starlux has been considering the A330neo since at least December 2019. An airline spokesman has said the airline is considering using them to connect Taiwan with popular, high-demand capitals across Asia.
The A330neo has struggled to sell since being introduced a couple of years ago, and while Starlux isn’t buying any completely new planes, its decision to operate the type is a vote of confidence. Still, the order was likely relatively cheap for the airline, both because of Airbus’ probable anxiousness to sell the aircraft and due to the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Before this announcement, Starlux had 27 planes on order, including 10 Airbus A321neos; nine Airbus A350-900s and eight Airbus A350-1000s. The airline recently added an additional A350-900 to its order, bringing the total it will receive to 10, while deferring A350 deliveries to early 2022. It is also adding three additional A321neos to its original order. With these new adds and the A330neo order, Starlux will see a nearly 50% increase in its fleet size.
Starlux uses its A321neos for regional routes across Asia. Its decision to bring in multiple long-haul widebody aircraft is no doubt a sign of its desire to expand internationally on long-haul routes. It has plans to serve the western United States, now most likely sometime in 2022 with long-haul aircraft deliveries to start at the end of 2021.
Widebody aircraft will also give Starlux the opportunity to offer more extravagant premium seats. The airline continues to bet on First Class offerings even as many other airlines around the world are cutting down on First Class or focusing more on Business Class, which can be cheaper and more environmentally friendly, thereby attracting more customers once drawn to First Class’ lavishness.
Starlux’s announcement comes on the same day that RwandAir canceled orders for two A330neo aircraft. Citing slowing growth, RwandAir said it would no longer need to take deliveries of outstanding orders, which also included two Boeing 737MAX 8 jets.
Starlux was founded May 2nd 2018, but launched operations in January 2020. Though it was grounded soon after due to the coronavirus pandemic, the airline hasn’t let go of its ambitious growth plans.