Taiwan’s Starlux Airlines has confirmed plans to begin flying to North America next year. The full-service carrier received flight permission from the Department of Transportation just a fortnight ago, clearing the way for flights. However, with border restrictions still in place, Starlux has opted to begin flights in 2022 at the earliest.
In a statement this week, Starlux Airlines reaffirmed plans to begin flights to North American at some point in 2022. While the airline has pushed back its first US flight from mid-2022 to later in the year, it seems services could begin in the next year itself.
The decision to push ahead with US flights in 2022 comes weeks after the US Department of Transportation permitted Starlux’s request to begin services. The carrier plans to operate an expansive schedule that will include up to 15 US cities using its fleet of A350-900s and -1000s.
However, the filing also indicated a start date of 2023 on some routes (Taipei to Los Angeles for instance), which means there is still some wiggle room on the dates. Considering the ever-changing situation, this is a good decision.
The coming months will provide more clarity on when Starlux will commence any routes to North America. Taiwan’s excellent handling of the pandemic means that its border is firmly closed to US visitors without a quarantine, hampering any plans for a new route. However, with vaccines rolling out quickly, border restrictions could be eased in the coming months.
Until Starlux gets its US flights off the ground, the carrier has been keeping busy in its home market. The airline recently added flights from Taipei to Ho Chi Minh, two prominent business hubs and a key cargo route for the airline. The route will operate thrice-weekly, on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, using an Airbus A321neo.
Ho Chi Minh is Starlux’s seventh destination since launching in February 2020. Other routes include Osaka, Tokyo, Penang, Macau, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok. Notably, several of these routes, including those to Japan and Thailand, commenced after the pandemic took hold, showing the carrier’s eagerness to jump into the market.
Another reason to commence flights to Ho Chi Minh is to set the ground for connecting passengers in the future. Starlux wants to capitalize on bustling traffic between Vietnam and the US by offering a stop in Taipei. Kicking off flights now will ensure Starlux is a familiar name when it starts offering trans-pacific flights next year.
Despite the impact of the pandemic, Starlux is making no promises to slow down its growth. The airline will add seven new Airbus A321neos this year and its first A330neo. The expanding fleet will allow Starlux to grow its presence across Asia and possibly even tap into some longer-haul markets in the near future.
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