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Airlines

The Shakespearean Drama That Launched an Airline

The Shakespearean Drama That Launched an Airline
Jeff Edwards

The story behind STARLUX Airlines begins with a palace coup, endures the turmoil of a divided house and is, finally, resolved with the redemption of a fallen leader and the birth of Taiwan’s first (and wildly successful) luxury boutique airline. It’s a story who’s grand proportions have earned its founder Chang Kuo-wei the nickname “Prince Hamlet” in Taiwanese media.

Chang Kuo-wei insists that his story isn’t about revenge. The one-time chairman of EVA Airways says that STARLUX isn’t about rebuilding his once-promising career, but an opportunity to create something that would have made his iconic father, Chang Yung-fa, proud. However, observers could be forgiven for drawing parallels between Chang Kuo-wei and a certain prince from Denmark.

 

Act One: The Rules of Succession

Chang Kuo-wei rose through the ranks of the family business working as a mechanic and a pilot for the airline before eventually assuming the role of chairman in 2013. During his career, he became a well-loved figure in the aviation industry, known for his outspokenness and expertise. And, when his father Chang Yung-fa died in 2016, he named Kuo-wei heir and successor of EVA Airways and its parent group Evergreen. It would become a decision that changed everything.

Because Kuo-wei was Yung-fa’s youngest son and the child of his second wife, his succession ignited a family feud. Kuo-wei wound up on the losing side. He was ousted from EVA as chairman at a board meeting called by his family members who were a little more than kin, and less than kind.

 

Act Two: Not a Tragedy

While this story begins in a Shakesperean fashion, it quickly takes a happier turn. Although Chang Kuo-wei was ousted from EVA, he still possessed a specialized set of skills and considerable capital on an island with only two major airlines. And one of those airlines struggled with labor disputes and financial setbacks after his departure.

Months after his ousting from EVA, Kuo-wei announced that he’d be starting his own airline. And thus, STARLUX was born. It’s an airline that promises to commit to the luxury that, it says, Taiwan’s dominant carriers have lost sight of in recent years.

STARLUX has reportedly agreed to purchase twelve Airbus A350-1000 and five Airbus A350-900 aircraft for immediate delivery. The carrier has already accepted the delivery of two new Airbus A321neo aircraft.

And, its strategy seems to be working. Eleven minutes after opening ticket sales online on December 16, the Taipei-based carrier sold out all seats on its first three flights — Taipei-Macau, Taipei-Penang and Taipei-Danang (If you manage to book your own flight on STARLUX, please let us know).

 

Act Three: A Luxurious Future

The airline gave an early peek of its BMW-designed business and economy class cabins in February of last year. The real woodwork and seamless modular designs evoke opulent cabin seating areas, elements of which were popularized by carriers such as Emirates, Qatar and Virgin Atlantic.

Chang Kuo-wei says that while offering a comparably more luxurious experience will help him to compete with his former employer, his time as a mechanic and a pilot helped to teach him what is truly important.

 

 

Each STARLUX employee will wear a badge embossed with the words “Safety is our attitude.” STARLUX is currently offering service between its Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) base and Macau International Airport (MFM), Penang International Airport (PEN) and Da Nang International Airport (DAD).

 

 

“Born with luxury. Shining like stars,” Chang said, announcing a January 2020 launch for his new venture. “Being high-end and luxurious is not about the price tag, but rather an attitude, a standard embedded in our brand. We will always be at the forefront of safety and quality service to achieve operational excellence and to perform beyond each passenger’s expectations in every detail.”

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