New airline routes launched (23 – 29 January)
Starlux Airlines Taipei to Penang
Starlux Airlines on 23 January commenced service from Taipei to Da Nang (Vietnam), Macau, and Penang (Malaysia). The Taiwanese new entrant, which says it wants to be the “Emirates of Taipei”, has launched services with a fleet of A321neos, with orders for 17 A350s from 2022. The carrier’s 188-seat A321neos feature eight lie-flat business class seats and 180 economy.
Its initial routes, all leisure destinations, are interesting given its repeated statements about luxury and its lie-flat beds. In the week starting 29 January, its existing routes have been one and four other competitors:
- Taipei – Da Nang: 36 weekly frequencies in all; four competitors; Starlux has a 14-weekly service
- Taipei – Macau: 106 weekly frequencies; three competitors; Starlux’s 21-weekly service is the least
- Taipei – Penang: 14 weekly frequencies; one competitor; Starlux has a daily service
Cebu next route to launch from S20; Japan likely regional target
Cebu will be Starlux’ next route, launching on 06 April according to OAG Schedules Analyser. It will be intriguing to see how the carrier’s business model will fare against well-established China Airlines and EVA Air and Taipei’s growing penetration by low-cost carriers.
The rest of this week’s new routes (A – Z by airline)
SAS became the latest A350 operator this week, launching services on the Copenhagen to Chicago route. The 300-seat type will be operate on six of the seven weekly flights, and will bring a 12% increase in weekly seat capacity. Operating exclusively from Copenhagen for S20, the type will serve eight destinations, as below, as it gradually replaces the Star Alliance carrier’s A340-300 fleet:
- Beijing Capital
- Hong Kong
- Los Angeles
- New York Newark
- San Francisco
- Shanghai Pudong
- Tokyo Haneda
- Vietjet on 26 January added daily flights to Denpasar-Bali from Hanoi. Nguyen Thanh Ha, Chairwoman of Vietjet’s Board of Directors said: “We are proud to be the first airline to operate direct flights between Hanoi and Bali. The new route will meet the New Year’s travel demand of the locals and international travelers with minimal travel time and cost”. According to OAG Schedules Analyser, no other carrier currently competes on the route. The ULCC launched its first Bali route in May 2019, from Ho Chi Minh City.
- Xiamen Airlines on 22 January began Fukuoka flights from Fuzhou. The route operates twice-weekly on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays with B737-800s. Fujian Province to Fukuoka had 10,000 total passengers in 2019, with the majority coming from the two main population centres of Xiamen and Fuzhou. China to Japan market connected 8.1 million passengers in 2019, of which 1.2 million were indirect.