Empty “Hamlet”?Inside story of Taiwan’s latest airline, Starlux

(CNN)- Taiwanese start-up Starlux Airlines, which debuted its first flight in January 2020, has the potential to become the first new player in 30 years to overturn the island’s duopoly aviation market.

And even before the career, dubbing Taiwan’s The first luxury boutique airline, launching the first aircraft in the air and causing turmoil.

Eleven minutes after starting online ticket sales on December 16, Taipei-based airlines sold out all seats on the first three flights (Taipei-Macau, Taipei-Penang, Taipei-Da Nang). I did.

But both aviation watchers and the general public are talking about it for another reason. It is a successor drama involving the founder of Starlux, Chang Kuo-wei, and is so juicy that it is called “Prince Hamlet” of the aviation industry by local media.

Chang Kuo-wei founded Starlux Airlines after being banished from the family-owned EVA Air.

Courtesy Starlux Airlines

The story of Shakepia is about who will take over one of the island’s largest family-owned complex companies, with Taiwan’s Evergreen Group and EVA Air founder Chang Yung-fa dying at the age of 88. It settled in 2016, which caused the conflict.

Chang, 49, who has been chairman of EVA since 2013, revealed that his deceased father has nominated him as the successor to his parent company, Evergreen.

Known for his candidness and expertise, his son, a beloved figure in the aviation industry, has worked for EVA Air as both an aircraft engineer and a pilot.

However, the promotion of Chang Kuo-wei, the youngest and only child of Chang Yung-fa, ignited a family feud.He soon Exiled from EVA as chairman At a board meeting convened by family members.

A few months later, he announced that he would launch his own airline, Starlux Airlines.

“He doesn’t think he’s’Hamlet'”

Local media calls it a Hamlet-like retaliation plan.

Expectations for launching a new airline are rising as both EVA Air and China Airlines, two major airlines in Taiwan, are plagued by strikes and internal conflicts.

However, according to the STARLUX team, Chan hasn’t gone out for retaliation.

“He doesn’t think he’s’Hamlet’,” Starlux Chief Communications Officer KW Knee told CNN Travel. “This has nothing to do with revenge.”

“With a passion for aviation, Chan wants to create an ideal airline that reflects his style after breaking out of Evergreen Group’s shackles. He is a star to meet the expectations of his deceased father. I’m building a lux. “

CNN Travel is seeking comments from EVA Air.

Homemade luxury airline

Starlux Airlines

Local designer Sean Yin is behind the STARLUX crew uniform.

Courtesy Starlux Airlines

It’s still unclear if Taipei-based STARLUX will be able to outperform the other major players on the island, but it certainly outperforms Taiwan’s aviation games.

The airline has introduced a new generation of airliners, including the A321neo and A350-1000, “both debuting for the first time in Taiwan,” says Nieh.

In fact, STARLUX was the first Taiwanese airline to carry the A321neos. All 10 aircraft will be delivered by the end of 2021. STARLUX has signed Taiwan’s largest single Airbus purchase agreement and purchased 17 A350 XWB aircraft in March 2019.

Chan himself piloted Starlux’s first A321neo from Hamburg to Taipei last month.

“The fleet will grow to 27 by the end of 2024 and 50 by the end of 2030,” Knee adds.

Designed by BMW’s Designworks studio, the narrow-body cabin is equipped with sophisticated seats, leather headrests and in-flight entertainment systems in all classes.

Economy class seats feature a 10.1-inch 720p screen, and business-class seats feature a reclining narrow body seat on an 82-inch fully flat bed, providing a 15.6-inch 1080p in-flight entertainment system.

Free Wi-Fi with basic access (sending text messages only to economy passengers) is provided in both classes on all Starlux Airlines. This is also the first time in Taiwan.

There are also many local touches. Taiwanese fragrance brand P.Seven has created a unique cabin scent that incorporates the scents of wood, leather and flowers. The 40’s and 50’s retrofuturism-themed airline crew uniforms are the product of local designer Sean Inn.

No fare war: STARLUX charges more than competitors

Starlux Airlines

Having established itself as an airline boutique, STARLUX aims to capture the high-end market.

Courtesy Starlux Airlines

Starlux is aiming for the United Arab Emirates and pledges to offer premium services as well.

At a recent press conference, Mr Chan said Starlux Airlines would not start a fare war. Instead, the ticket is reasonably priced, but more expensive than its competitors.

“We consider flight to be a fun part of the journey,” Knee adds. “We provide first-class and exquisite service, which sets STARLUX apart from other companies on the market.

“We have established ourselves as a boutique airline targeting the high-end market. We have introduced state-of-the-art aircraft models with the latest aviation technology and seats. Fares are higher than other airlines. We offer exquisite service items so that they are slightly higher. “

According to aviation expert CKLaw, a senior adviser to the Faculty of Aviation Policy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, this unique position is a smart move for STARLUX.

“Many new airlines are taking advantage of the low cost sector of the market, especially in this part of the world,” Law says.

“That’s definitely a major trend. There should be reasonable demand for the high-end passenger segment of the market.”

But he expects new airlines to impact airfares in the long run.

“From the passenger’s point of view, there are new options in the long run and new fares may be reduced, so there are new real benefits. There is competition for better service on the plane. “Law says.

Potential fierce competition

Both Taiwan's two major airlines, EVA Air and China Airlines, were affected by the 2019 strike.

Both Taiwan’s two major airlines, EVA Air and China Airlines, were affected by the 2019 strike.

Patrick Rynn / AFP / Getty Images

Taiwan has enjoyed not only flights but also a healthy increase in passenger numbers in recent years.

Boeing Taiwan Airline Demand Overall, it will be stronger than the annual average for the Northeast Asian region (2% over the next 20 years).

But is there enough space to accommodate another major airline?

“The new full-service airline will undoubtedly bring a lot of new competition to traditional airline markets like Taiwan,” says Law.

“The ability of new or even existing airlines to survive for this depends primarily on how fast the market grows and whether new demand can absorb or balance new supply capacity. increase.

“Otherwise, it can be fierce competition and casualties.”

One of the biggest questions is whether newcomers can open up a place for themselves in the two markets Starlux will explore: the long-haul market and the transit market.

“I expect good, high load factors to be achieved in the short-haul tourism market, but long-distance destinations [major competition in Taiwan,] It’s definitely more challenging, “Rho says.

“In the first place, it’s not easy for new airlines to join a reputable alliance. Unless you’re a member of the alliance, it’s not at all easy to get transit passengers, but that can be a long-term goal. There is sex, “says the law.

Knee, on the other hand, is confident.

“STARLUX development isn’t just dependent on the Taiwanese market. Taipei is geographically well-located and can reach major cities in Asia within five hours,” he says.

“Taiwan, which is centrally located between North America, North Asia and Southeast Asia, has the best foundation for developing as an aviation hub. By installing and building its hardware and software, Taiwan’s aviation The industry hopes to become a transportation hub in Asia, strengthening its transportation services and bringing many international passengers to Taiwan. “

Knee Recent research According to the Taiwan Government’s National Audit Office, only 10% of inbound travelers on the island claim to be transit passengers.

“Compared to Hong Kong, Incheon, Shanghai and Tokyo, there is room for market development,” says Knee. “We are very confident about this part.”

The first rush of ticket sales was good news for STARLUX.

“Tickets to Macau sold out in 6 minutes. Tickets to Danang sold out in 9 minutes and tickets to Penang sold out in 11 minutes,” Liwen Liu, director of corporate communications at STARLUX, told CNN. I will talk.

“All 188 seats on each of the three flights.

“We are very happy with that. We had our expectations, but the reaction was better than we expected,” says Liu.

“A painstaking journey”

Chang Kuo Wei

Chan (second from left) flew the first Starlux plane from Hamburg to Taipei.

Courtesy Starlux Airlines

Getting part of the market isn’t the only concern for STARLUX.

Delays in construction at Terminal 3 at Taoyuan Airport have forced airlines to build check-in counters, airport offices, maintenance hangars, and apron spaces with very limited resources.

“The aviation industry is a huge investment and labor-intensive industry,” he adds. “It’s hard to make a profit. Therefore, setting up an airline is a very difficult road. Starlux has a leading talent to understand the uniqueness of the industry. Avoid unnecessary investment and Starlux Guarantees steady and healthy growth.

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