The former chairman of EVA Air is planning to launch a new airline in Taiwan, operating both short- and long-haul routes.
Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) reports that the full-service carrier, StarLux, is expected to commence commercial operations by the end of 2019. It will target traffic between Southeast Asia and North America, allowing travellers to transit in Taipei.
Neih Kuo-wei, who is said to be a “close associate” of StarLux founder Chang Kuo-wei, told CNA that an application to establish the new company would be submitted to Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) by the end of the year, and that contracts to purchase or lease new aircraft will be finalised next year. Chang is the former chairman of EVA Air.
Under the airline’s operational plan, disclosed by Neih to CNA, StarLux will build a fleet of 24 aircraft within the first six years, employing 3,500 people. In the second six-year period, it expects to add a further 26 aircraft and increase its staff headcount to 7,000 or 8,000 employees.
Aircraft being considered by StarLux include the single-aisle Airbus A321neo, which would operate the routes between Taiwan and Southeast Asia, and twin-aisle models like the Airbus A350, Boeing 787 Dreamliner and 777-X, which could be deployed on trans-Pacific routes to North America.
StarLux has already started recruiting staff, Neih said, and is expected to begin seeking pilots and flight attendants soon.
Chang became chairman of Taipei-based EVA Air in January 2013 but he was removed from his post in March 2016 following a power struggle within the airline’s parent company, the Evergreen Group. StarLux will compete directly with EVA, which has focused on expanding its US operations in recent years, as well as with China Airlines.