When Will Starlux Airlines Take Its First Airbus A330neo?

Taipei-based Starlux Airlines is expecting its first Airbus A330-900neo early in 2022, paving the way for the airline’s…

When Will Starlux Airlines Take Its First Airbus A330neo?

Taipei-based Starlux Airlines is expecting its first Airbus A330-900neo early in 2022, paving the way for the airline’s expansion around Asia. The twin-aisle plane will bridge the gap between the airline’s existing fleet Airbus A321neos and yet-to-arrive Airbus A350s.

Starlux Airlines is expecting its first Airbus A330neo in February 2022. Photo: Airbus

High expectations for Starlux’s first A330neo

First reported by Executive Traveller, Starlux is anticipating its first A330neo in February and is eyeing initially operating it on Taipei – Singapore flights. The Airbus will come in a two-class configuration with Recaro’s CL 3710 seats in the main cabin and yet-to-be-disclosed seats in the business cabin.

However, given Starlux’s spectacular business cabin on its existing fleet of narrowbody Airbus planes, expectations are high for the A330neo business class product. Starlux only ordered the Airbus A330neo aircraft 12 months ago. The leased jets are coming from US-based Air Lease Corporation (ALC).

Starlux’s well-regarded business class cabin on its existing fleet. Photo: Starlux

A bumpy ride for Starlux

It has been a bumpy ride for the airline that launched less than two years ago. Starlux launched just as international travel was about to fall off the cliff. The airline operated its first passenger flights in January 2020. Two months later, Starlus was forced to suspend all flights.

It was three months before flights took off again. Fifteen months down the track, Starlux is flying to multiple destinations around Asia. However, frequencies are slight, often only once a week. Singapore, the proposed first A330neo destination, is only seeing one Starlux flight a week right now.

Starlux’s most visited destination is Macao. The airline currently operates five return passenger flights a week to Macao plus a further two freight-only flights.

Starlux aircraft in Taipei. Photo: Starlux

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Flying within Asia continues to lag other region’s recovery

Starlux will be betting on business improving by the time the first A330neo touches down in February. With proposed North American flights on pause, Starlux is sticking to flying around Asia. But intra-Asia flying is continuing to experience weak passenger volumes.

In July, 1.5 million passengers took an international flight within Asia. In contrast, 33 million passengers took an international flight within Asia in July 2019. According to the regional airline group, the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA), Asia is lagging behind other regions in terms of international air travel recovery.

“While other regions are easing restrictions on the back of successful vaccination roll-outs, borders in Asia still remain largely closed due to low vaccination levels,” said AAPA earlier this month.

Just over 7.3% of Taiwan’s population is fully vaccinated, and Taiwan’s border remains closed to most non-nationals. The country has also experienced a rolling series of soft lockdowns. For Starlux to fill its first Airbus A330neo (and its subsequent delivered aircraft), it will need movement restrictions in Taiwan and elsewhere around Asia to lift.

Unfortunately, an increasing number of industry pundits suggest Asia will be among the last parts of the world to lift border controls and travel restrictions. That indicates Starlux’s bumpy ride may continue for some time yet.

Meanwhile, Starlux also flagged to Executive Traveller the likelihood of its joining an alliance when more established. Given local rival Eva Air is a member of the Star Alliance, and China Airlines is firmly ensconced in the SkyTeam family, there are no prizes for which alliance Starlux might first flirt with.

But with oneworld members Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific also based in the North Asia neighborhood, is there room in the oneworld alliance for a third airline from the region?

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Qantas’ Dreamliners – Where Are They Today?

Qantas is keeping all but one of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners in the air. Despite not operating their…

Qantas’ Dreamliners – Where Are They Today?

Qantas is keeping all but one of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners in the air. Despite not operating their regular timetabled passenger flights, the Dreamliners keep busy ferrying freight and operating repatriation flights from some far-flung destinations.

Qantas has 10 of its 11 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners in the air. Photo: Qantas

Qantas Dreamliners flying to a variety of destinations

With just 11 Dreamliners in the Qantas fleet, keeping track of their whereabouts is manageable. Here’s a snapshot of where the planes are on Thursday morning (Sydney time).

VH-ZNA Great Southern Land is in Los Angeles, having flown there from Brisbane on Tuesday. The Qantas Dreamliners constantly zip across the Pacific operating freight flights. The plane is likely to head back to Australia today.

VH-ZNB Waltzing Matilda is in Islamabad, having flown there nonstop from Sydney on Wednesday. Islamabad isn’t a typical Qantas destination, but this is the second Qantas flight there in two weeks. The ranks of Australian passport and visa holders in Pakistan trying to get home have swelled recently due to the situation in neighboring Afghanistan.

On Thursday morning, VH-ZNC Quokka touched down in Perth from London, operating QF10. The jet is scheduled to continue through to Sydney on Thursday. VH-ZNC has been busy lately. It has been to London (and many cities en route) four times in two weeks.

By the time of publication, VH-ZND Emily Kame Kngwarreye will be in Darwin, having operated a repatriation flight from Delhi. At the time of writing, the Dreamliner is at 41,000 feet and passing over Timor Leste.

Dressed with Emily Kame Kngwarreye art, Vh-ZND is Qantas’ most distinctive Dreamliner. Photo: Qantas

VH-ZNE is parked, or is it?

VH-ZNE Skippy is in Singapore, having flown there on September 16. According to planespotters.net, VH-ZNE is now parked in Singapore, although ch-aviation currently lists the plane as active. The next couple of weeks will show which database is right.

Also in Los Angeles on Thursday morning is VH-ZNF Boomerang. The Dreamliner jetted across on Wednesday as QF6013. It slipped under the radar, but VH-ZNF operated an interesting city pair in late August. The plane flew from Cape Town to Brisbane on August 26 – likely the first time a plane has flown between those two cities nonstop.

VH-ZNG Jillaroo is in Melbourne, having operated QF7707 down from Sydney on Thursday morning. That appears to be a positioning flight. The plane operated a repatriation flight from London to Darwin on Tuesday, continued onto Sydney on Wednesday, and looks set to head off to LAX later on Thursday.

A little further away is VH-ZNH Great Barrier Reef, which is 43,000 feet over Egypt en route to London at the time of writing. The flight left from Perth, operating as QF9, early on Wednesday evening. Whether the Dreamliner is heading to London for freight or repatriations purposes is difficult to ascertain at this point.

VH-ZNI Kookaburra is in Vancouver, having flown there on Monday from Sydney. It is a break from routine for the aircraft, which spends most of its time flying to standard Qantas destinations like Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.

VH-ZNJ Longreach, also known as the Qantas centenary plane. Photo: Tom Boon/Simple Flying

Los Angeles a Qantas Dreamliner hotspot

Down the coast in Los Angeles is VH-ZNJ Longreach. The plane arrived there on Wednesday morning after flying in from Melbourne. All these LAX-bound jets suggests there is still substantial Qantas traffic into Los Angeles, even if they aren’t carrying passengers.

Finally, and also in Los Angeles, is VH-ZNK Gangurru. The Dreamliner flew in from Sydney on Wednesday morning. This is the same plane that operated the Islamabad – Darwin flight last week. After ferrying to Sydney, VH-ZNK then headed over to Los Angeles. That places four Qantas Dreamliners in Los Angeles.

Have you seen a Qantas Dreamliner land at an airport near you lately? Post a comment and let us know.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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