Starlux aims to serve the US market from 2022. The carrier formally applied to the US Department of Transportation last Friday for the authority to fly between Taipei and Los Angeles with its A350-900 aircraft.
It will join two other Taiwan-based carriers, China Airlines and EVA, in serving the market. United Airlines also historically served Taipei from its San Francisco hub.
The application is mostly boiler-plate declarations, but it also includes a few interesting details on the planned A350 aircraft configuration and even potential airfare levels for the route.
A crowded cabin?
Starlux indicates in the application that its A350-900 will fly with 306 seats on board. This is at the upper end of the range for similarly fitted long-haul configurations. Singapore Airlines comes in at the low end closer to 250 seats on board while Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa stay under 300. Delta Air Lines similarly fits 306 in its A350-900 layout.
How that seating works out down the back given the carrier’s insistence it will also include a first class cabin remains to be seen.
At least with the connecting traffic the carrier’s more premium A321 configuration starts to make a bit more sense than it does for a stand-alone, regional operation.
The business plan detailed in the application offers some insight into how the carrier intends to price the offering and what levels of demand it expects. With daily service Starlux expects the route to deliver a profit of just over $4 million in 2023, or $11,340 per round trip journey on total revenue of $121 million.
Each round trip flight offers 612 seats. The carrier expects a load factor of approximately 75%, carrying 168,205 passengers per year, or approximately 230 in each direction on average. With revenue expectations of $274,740 passenger revenue per round trip flight that breaks down to an average passenger paying a hair under $600 each way to fly the route.
Of course, the numbers will diverge significantly from that as premium cabins and connecting traffic are considered.
Exact timing on the start of the new route remains uncertain, but based on aircraft delivery schedules and prior company comments something in the Q2/Q3 timeframe appears most likely as of right now.
More destinations coming??
The DOT application follows a similar request to the Taiwanese government from early November.
That application covered 15 total US airports, from Guam to Miami and most major cities in between. It is highly unlikely all of them see service, however.
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