Taiwanese Carrier STARLUX Intends To Join oneworld Alliance

Taiwan, with a population about the size of Florida, has three long haul airlines in addition to small regional carriers Mandarin Airlines and Daily Air as well as intra-Asian airlines Tigerair Taiwan and , Uni Air.

Their flag carriers China Airlines (SkyTeam) and EVA Air (Star Alliance) increasingly must compete against rapidly growing upstart Starlux. They currently connect U.S. passengers from the West Coast through Taipei to Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines, and Japan and are launching service this summer to Hong Kong and Jakarta.

  • Los Angeles: where they compete with three-times daily EVA Air and daily China Airlines
  • San Francisco: where they compete with double-daily EVA Air, double-daily United, and daily China Airlines
  • Seattle: (starts August 16) where they compete with 10 flights a week from EVA Air, daily Delta service, and 5-times weekly China Airlines

This is a crowded market, and having a U.S. connectivity partner only with Alaska is limiting. Taiwanese media is reporting that Starlux is looking to join the oneworld alliance, putting them on stronger footing against their larger Taiwanese long haul rivals.

Starlux is already a partner of oneworld member Alaska Airlines. They need to grow their connectedness.

  • Starlux’s extened Japanese network would benefit from a partnership with Japan Airlines and U.S. flying would certainly be bolstered working with American Airlines, especially if they seek to grow beyond the West Coast.

  • American, though, doesn’t fly to Taipei but would benefit from connecting passengers brought to the U.S. by Starlux – and a Taiwanese partnership could ultimately support the introduction of Dallas – Taipei once the airline starts receiving delayed Boeing 787-9s.

  • Another Asian partner could be useful for oneworld, especially if Air China takes control of Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific and moves it to Star Alliance. oneworld is already weak in Asia, with Japan Airlines offering only a limited connecting operation throughout Asia and Malaysia Airlines and SriLankan flying only so far.

Taiwan’s Starlux Airlines is fascinating. It’s a revenge play by the former Chairman of Star Alliance carrier EVA Air who was ousted after his father’s death, the victim of an estate squabble stemming from plural marriage. He was son to the founder’s second wife, and ousted by the children of the founder’s first wife.

In fact when he was ousted it was done in the most humiliating way possible. He’s a pilot and had flown for EVA to Singapore. When he was removed he wasn’t even allowed to act as pilot on the way home.

Starlux’s Cosmile program is known to status match.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The chairman of Starlux has a name, Mr. Chang Kuo-wei. Please address him by name not he he he him him him. He is well respected in Taiwan.

  2. I approve this message.

    OneWorld needs more Asia connectivity out of the west coast, especially for SE Asia. Award inventory is evanescent, at best, but even revenue seats from “secondary” markets like SAN leave few options (the NRT flight is not daily on JAL).

    Currently looking at routes to HKG, BKK, SGN, PVG and unless one drives to LAX it ain’t pretty. Otherwise, AA wants SAN to connect to its Japan flights via DFW or ORD, or do a double connect via PHX and LAX

  3. I’m not sure where this information comes from: “… the victim of an estate squabble stemming from plural marriage.” This seems to be more accurate: “Chang Yung-fa was married twice. His first wife was Lin Chin-chih, with whom he had four children. After her passing, he married Lee Yu-mei, who bore him one son.” (goodreturns dot in) Anyway, interesting background information.

  4. People like to b**** and complain about the stupidest thing. Let’s focus on the (good) news here, not how Gary used a pronoun. Heaven forbid.

  5. I flew Starlux KL – Taipei Business my score was 9/10 this is because l don’t do 10/10s come Starlux to one world with open arms and please do TPE MEL/SYD

  6. I purchased a ticket last week for the CRK – LAX flight. It was a round trip ticket. As I started to check the itinerary of the flights I noticed the were charging an additional $200 for the second piece of checked baggage. Who flys internationally with two checked bags and then when you return they hit with this $200 baggage fee? I have been flying for more than 50 years and have never heard of such a devious way to make extra money from customers. Buyer be aware.

  7. @Pilot guyder, some airlines flying across the Pacific charge for a second checked bag. The one I remember is Cathay Pacific. When I added their extra baggage charge to the cost of their ticket, they were no longer as price competitive where, before that charge they were the lowest price by a little bit on a coach seat (west bound two bags, east bound one bag).

  8. Starlux would be a welcome addition to ONEWORLD to increase coverage in SE Asia. The Alliance needs to ‘cover themselves’ in the case that Cathay Pacific were to defect to align with airChina in the competing STAR Alliance. STAR does not really need Cathay Pacific either because that could send Singapore Airlines looking elsewhere. ONEWORLD should also be looking at Philippine Airlines and China Southern as potential Members. Starlux could certainly benefit from the feed that both Alaska and American could provide from their US Gateways.

  9. With China US relations deteriorating, there may be an increasing number of people who no longer feel safe about transiting via Hong Kong ( on Cathay, CX) or even Mainland China (i.e. Guangzhou and China Southern, CZ), so adding a Taipei based carrier is a good move for OneWorld, especially as Starlux (JX) currently does not (and not actively seeking to) offer flights to China Mainland (Macau and starting July HK only) means that adding JX to OW will not necessarily force CX to STAR, but adding Guangzhou and CZ to OW will certainly guarantee CX moves to STAR. Guangzhou and HK are simply too close. Remember just Shanghais China Eastern (MU) joining SkyTeam ( rather than OW) years ago have eventually driven CZ to leave SkyTeam. I’d say OW needs a JX for diversification/backup for US – SE routes (US- China routes handle by JL via Tokyo for Beijing shanghai Guangzhou, and further inland options by CX via HK), and then if CX indeed leaves OW, ask JX to add Mainland routes and/or add Guangzhou CZ to OW.

    btw, Starlux business lounge is a good one in terms of food offerings (i.e. made to order roasted salmon steak, and you can actually call the lounge to start roasting it for you to take out while stuck in security) vs JL CX MH AA AS BA sapphire level lounges. I was a JL Diamond and TK Elite+ and either one matched me to JX’s highest tier 4 yrs ago.

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