With just months to go until Taiwanese startup Starlux begins service, we take a look at the onboard connectivity promised by this unusual little airline, and where you can catch one of those very first flights.
Free WiFi on Starlux
Back in April this year, Starlux confirmed a partnership with SITAONAIR for its IFC requirements. SITAONAIR will use its ONAIR WiFi portal over the high-speed GX Aviation satellite from Inmarsat. The technology is expected to arrive already quipped on the airline’s A321neos and A350s.
The airline is making quite some noise about offering free WiFi to all its passengers. However, upon digging a little deeper, we find that the truth is everyone will get free ‘basic’ WiFi. This is likely to be simply low bandwidth, low capacity connections only good for instant messaging.
No details are yet available on the pricing for the paid WiFi options, nor whether the basic will be subject to a cap. If previous similar packages are anything to go by, we can expect a very low cap for the free WiFi, but perhaps we’ll be surprised.
First aircraft delivered
Starlux received its first aircraft just last week, ahead of its 2020 launch. The airline received an A321neo on Friday 25th October in a ceremony at the Airbus site in Hamburg. This is the first of 10 A321neos due to be delivered to the airline.
Onboard, the airline promises 82 inch lie flat business class seats, designed by BMW’s Designworks studio. While lie flat business class on a narrowbody is uncommon, it’s actually a first for any Taiwanese airline, and promises to make Starlux stand out from the crowd.
There will be eight business class seats in a 2-2 configuration, complete with a 15.6” 1080p IFE screen. Back in economy, the 180 seats will be in a 3-3 layout with a 10.1” 720p screen. The cabin is accentuated with leather headrests and every seat has a USB power outlet.
Starlux first routes
Headquartered in Taipei, Starlux will be focusing on its own back yard for initial route development. It announced this week its first three destinations from this hub, which will be Macau in China, Da Nang in Vietnam and Penang in Malaysia. Clearly, the airline’s focus, at least to begin with, will be on the tourist and leisure market, which makes sense while Taiwan is enduring its winter months.
Starlux has slated its first flight to begin on January 23rd. While it has not yet confirmed the schedule for this flight, it’s likely to be either Macau or Da Nang, as the Penang route is reportedly still under discussion.
Following launch, Starlux has some ambitious expansion plans in place. Discussions on aviation forums and in the Chinese press point to more leisure routes around southeast Asia. On the table are Nha Trang, Halong Bay, Bangkok, Changmai and Phuket. Following the establishment of these routes, it’s likely the airline will head north towards capacity demanding Japan.
As well as the seven more A321neos which will deliver over the course of 2020, the airline also has five A350-900s and 12 A350-1000s on order. Delivery of these will begin next year, and will enable the airline to look to long haul routes in Europe, Australia and the United States.