Former EVA chairman launches Starlux Airlines

Japan will be the priority when flights start in 2020

Chang Kuo-wei unveiled Starlux Airlines Tuesday.

Chang Kuo-wei unveiled Starlux Airlines Tuesday. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Former EVA Airways Chairman Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒) on Tuesday officially presented his new airline, Starlux Airlines (星宇航空), declaring flights to Japan as his first priority.

Chang, the son of Evergreen Group (長榮集團) founder Chang Yung-fa (張榮發) and his second wife, was ousted from the group and from EVA after the elder Chang’s death in January 2016.

Gradually, reports emerged that he was thinking of forming a new airline of his own, which would target higher-end customers.

On Tuesday, he chaired an official news conference to mark the registration of Starlux and expanded on his plans for the company’s first decade.

Japan would be the priority during the initial phase of the airline’s development following its expected maiden flight in 2020, he said, naming Southeast Asia as another possibility and the West Coast of the United States as its prime long-haul destination.

In Southeast Asia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Bali, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur were named as Starlux’s first choices, the Central News Agency reported. Only after two or three years operating short-haul flights would Starlux consider flying to the U.S., Chang said, with first the West Coast and shortly afterward the East Coast.

He predicted Europe would come last as flights to the continent were harder to obtain due to a quota system.

As to China, he speculated that the fact that new airlines could not apply for cross-strait flights within two years of their setting up might not have been such a bad rule, given the relatively weak performance of that market recently, CNA reported.

Asked by reporters whether Tuesday’s news conference amounted to “the revenge of the prince,” Chang said he was not a prince, but a king, while he would never rule out cooperation with other Taiwanese airlines, cable station TVBS reported.