StarLux Airlines Co. said on Tuesday that it is ready to begin operating flights from Taiwan to Tokyo and Osaka next month amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employees of StarLux Airlines Co. are working at the booking counter of the company's Taipei office on Nov. 3, 2020. (Kyodo)

Chief Executive Officer Glenn Chai told reporters that the airline will offer two round-trip flights each week from Taoyuan International Airport, which serves Taipei, to Narita airport in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo and to Kansai airport in Osaka Prefecture.

It will also begin operating twice-weekly services to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport from next month, he said.

Chai said the timing is right as Japan has gradually opened its borders and restarted short-term business travel. "We hope to fill more seats if Japan further loosens its travel restrictions next month," he added.

Founded in May 2018, the carrier began operations on Jan. 23 this year, offering daily flights from Taiwan to the Macau, Malaysia's Penang and Vietnam's Danang.

The original plan of Taiwan's seventh airline was to fly routes in Southeast and Northeast Asia and gradually expand its trans-oceanic routes to North America.

However, it canceled most of its flights in February, suspended operations completely in March and stopped hiring new employees as the COVID-19 pandemic spread.

The airline estimated that it has suffered NT$2.8 billion (US$97.8 million) in losses since 2018, including NT$1.3 billion incurred for the first half of this year.

Seeking to offset the financial blow, the carrier had partially resumed flights to Macao and Penang, earning revenue by flying cargo in the bellies of its passenger aircraft.

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