[Updated to include quotes and additional information]
Taiwanese airline Starlux Airlines has officially launched its Macau operations today, with company representatives hoping the new airline could provide a new premium carrier choice to local and Greater Bay Area residents looking to travel to Taipei.
Flights will be available starting from January 23, with the airline stating it hoped to provide more choices for Macau residents to visit Taiwan during the 2020 Chinese New Year, between January 25 and February 8.
In the first stages the company will provide in three routes connecting Taipei to Macau; Danang, Vietnam; and Penang, Malaysia, with future plans to establish long-haul routes to Europe by 2022 and to North America by 2024.
Online ticket pre-sales were already made available starting from December 16, with the company’s Chief Communications Officer, Kuo-Wei Nieh saying that 4,000 tickets for all three destinations were sold in just 11 minutes that day.
The company will provide three direct daily Taipei-Macau flights departing from the Taoyuan International Airport at 7:30 am, 1:05 pm and 6:50 pm, and lasting about two hours, with return flights departing from Macau every day at 10:30 am, 4:10 pm and 9:40 pm.
However, according to Kuo, while Taipei to Macau tickets were already available on December 16, tickets for Macau to Taipei routes will only be available on December 19.
According to the Taiwan Tourism Office in Hong Kong, Taiwan is already Macau’s fourth-largest source of tourists, with 1.06 million Taiwanese citizens have travelled to the city in 2018. Meanwhile, about 90,000 visits from Macau residents to Taiwan were recorded every year.
Starlux’s Macau branch General Manager, Stevan Feng, told MNA that he believes passengers travelling from Macau to Taipei will make up 30 per cent of the passengers using the connection, with most to make the opposite direction.
Starlux has placed an order for 10 Airbus A321neo, which have started being delivered in October of this year.
The company’s current aircraft are equipped with 188 seats, eight in business class and 180 economy class seats. Business-class passengers will have 1080p inflight entertainment system screens, with seats also able to be transformed into an 82-inch flatbed.
Flights will have free wi-fi available during the entire flight, with basic access for messages provided to economy class passengers.
The company also plans to acquire nine A350-900 and eight A350-1000 by the end of 2021, estimating it will be equipped with 27 premium aircraft by the end of 2024, a with a 50 aircraft fleet by 2050.
With Starlux to become the fourth airline to connect Macau to Taipei – together with Tigerasia, EVA Air and Air Macau – Kuo stated the airline was looking to provide a different premium standard in its service, from the food to the seats, that could entice people to opt for the company.
The Marketing Director of Macau International Airport Co. Ltd, Eric Fong, also expressed to MNA that Starlux would provide a different service from other airlines travelling to Taiwan while noting the airport still has room to increase the number of its routes.
Meanwhile, the company’s Macau branch General Manager indicated that the airline currently has 20 employees at the branch office and in the local airport, with no plans at the moment to hire more.
Starlux Airlines was founded in May, 2018 by Chang Kuo-wei, the former Chairman of EVA Airlines.
The son of Chang Yung-fa, deceased Taiwan’s Evergreen Group and airline EVA Airways founder, Chang Kuo-wei left the company in 2016 following a family dispute and put in motion plans to create a new ’boutique’ premium airline.