Taiwan’s newest long-haul airline, Starlux Airlines, has inaugurated scheduled services between Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in California.
Launched in September as part of the airline’s drive towards expanding its operations across North America, the new 11-hour flight is scheduled to operate three times a week through the current winter travel season. However, from March 20, 2024, the operation will shift up a gear to become a daily service between the two cities.
The flight departs Taipei on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The eastbound service to the US with flight number JX12, departs Taipei at 23:30 CST and lands in San Francisco at 18:30 PST. The return journey, JX11, takes off from San Francisco at 23:40 PST and arrives at Taipei at 05:30 CST (+2) due to the route flown between the two cities crossing the international date line.
The flights are flown by one of the carrier’s four Airbus A350-900s which seat 297 passengers in a two-class configuration – 28 in business class and 269 in economy class.
When the route was initially launched in September 2023, Starlux Airlines’ CEO Glenn Chai noted the overwhelming demand for San Francisco flights, owing to the city’s strong cultural and historical ties with the Asian diaspora and its continued popularity with tourists.
“With San Francisco’s proximity to Silicon Valley and status as a significant political, economic, and tourism hub, the City by the Bay has established itself as a top travel destination,” said Chai. “With one-third of its population of Asian descent, our new route will cater to these travelers’ needs too, whether they are visiting family, vacationing, or traveling for work.”
The inaugural flight between Taipei and San Francisco operated on December 16, 2023, and was flown by A350-900 B-58503, which is just 1.6 years old. The 274 passengers onboard were accompanied by characters such as Charlie Brown and Snoopy from the popular Peanuts cartoon series, albeit dressed in the airline’s cabin crew uniform.
The stunt was the result of a branding deal reached between the carrier and Peanuts whereby all Starlux flights between Taipei and San Francisco will feature Snoopy-themed branding.
The new service complements a service already flown by Starlux Airlines between Taipei and Los Angeles (LAX) further down the California coast from San Francisco. However, with two West Coast services already under its belt, the airline is not planning on stopping there.
Looking further ahead into 2024, the carrier is already planning on launching a route linking Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (SEA) with Taipei. While the airline holds aspirations to fly to New York in addition to its West Coast destinations, delays to deliveries of new aircraft have forced those plans to be put on hold for now.
Alongside its four A350-900s, the airline currently operates a fleet of four Airbus A330-900neos plus 13 Airbus A321-200neos. Japan is a key market for the carrier, and the company currently operates to eight destinations within that country.