Taiwan’s Starlux Airlines has some bold plans for its Airbus A350s. The airline, which made its first flights earlier this year, is now planning to put a first class cabin on board its A350 aircraft.
Starlux planning for a first class
Focus Taiwan reports that Starlux Airlines will be putting a first class on its upcoming Airbus A350 aircraft. While the airline has not detailed a final configuration for its first class cabin, those details are expected to be hammered out by the end of the year.
Starlux does not currently have a first class onboard its Airbus A321neos. Instead, the carrier has a business class section made up of eight business class seats, which are lie-flat, and 180 economy class seats. The lie-flats in business class can turn into an 82-inch flatbed and is in a 2-2 configuration. These seats are similar to other airlines’ business class seats, such as the ones onboard KLM’s Boeing 777-300ERs. Here is a tour of Starlux’s Airbus A321neos:
Starlux’s Airbus A350s
Starlux has 17 A350s on order. This is comprised of eight A350-1000s and nine A350-900s. Starlux first signed a purchase agreement for 17 of the jets in March 2019 before altering the number of each variant it would take in November of last year.
The first of these aircraft will arrive at the airline at the end of 2021. So, it is at least a year from now until anyone will be able to fly on the airline’s new first class product. Until then, passengers can experience the carrier’s business class product.
What could a first class look like?
A widebody like the A350 means plenty of opportunities for an airline to try out some different styles of products. Privacy is becoming one of the most sought-after features in premium cabins. New products such as the Qatar QSuite, ANA’s “The Suite” and “The Room,” British Airways’ Club Suite, and Delta Air Lines’ Delta One Suite, closed-off lie-flat seats with doors are becoming the norm on more and more airlines.
Starlux is positioning itself as a luxury airline. So, onboard its A350s, the airline will likely take a big leap forward. In addition, the routes the planes will operate include destinations in East Asia and, from mid-2022, the United States West Coast.
In these competitive markets where Starlux will be facing off against big players like ANA, EVA Air, and China Airlines– among others– the airline needs to put its best foot forward with a top-notch product that really feels luxurious.
The carrier may turn towards existing suite-style products or else modify an existing seat to match the airline’s color scheme and needs. Or else, since it has the time, the airline could turn and work with a manufacturer to create its own first class product.
The other consideration would also be what business class product the airline plans to maintain. Suppose the carrier decides to keep its existing product on the Airbus A321neos and outfit the same seats on the A350s. That would put it at a slight competitive disadvantage with a 2-2-2 configuration in business compared to other airlines but would lower the bar, per se, when it comes to the standard of the carrier’s first class product.
If the airline goes with a new business class product on the A350s also, perhaps a reverse herringbone-style, then it would need to offer a much better first class product to entice its potential customers to buy to up to first class at a time when most airlines are doing away with the prestigious cabin.
Are you excited for Starlux Airlines’ new first class product? What do you think the airline will select? Let us know in the comments!