Monday, June 03, 2013

Surf Air Offers 'All You Can Fly' For A Monthly Fee

 

by Wendy Kaufman 
June 03, 2013 3:28 AM

A new airline with an innovative, "all you can fly" business model is about to take off. Federal regulators have just given California-based Surf Air permission to begin passenger service.

Surf Air is a big idea with small planes. For a flat monthly fee, subscribers will be able to take all the trips they want among four California cities: San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.

The airline's co-founder and CEO Wade Eyerly boasts that Surf Air will offer frequent commuters a corporate jet experience for not that much more than regular airline prices.

The Model

The company's general aviation facility is on the far side of the Burbank Airport in metropolitan Los Angeles. Instead of using big, busy terminals, Surf Air will fly out of smaller, low-key places like this one. No TSA screening is required, so there's no conga line, no emptying your pockets or removing your shoes.

"You're about probably 50 feet from the plane as it pulls up, and then the concierge will come get you when it's time to go," Eyerly says.

The total amount of time from parking your car to ducking inside the plane could be less than five minutes. The Swiss-made, eight-passenger turboprop has a single engine and two pilots. The longest flight — between San Francisco and Los Angeles — will be just over an hour.

The airline originally suggested the monthly subscription price would be about $1,000. But late last week, Surf Air said the first group of subscribers would pay a lot more: $1,650 a month for an unlimited number of flights.

Eyerly recalls that with Nextflix, customers used to be able to order all the DVDs they wanted but could hold only a few of them at a time. With Surf Air, travelers can only have four boarding passes at once.

"It keeps any one member from sort of boxing everyone else out from every flight and makes sure there's enough capacity for everyone to be able to book regularly," he says.

Analyst Wayne Plucker with the firm Frost and Sullivan has been following the airline's progress.

"If they can get enough subscribers and keep them happy for long enough, it's a reasonable business model," he says.

But he cautions that the economics of any airline are tricky and says Surf Air will need enough cushion to cover mechanical or other problems.

Keeping Customers Happy

When Surf Air first emerged as a concept, it drew thousands of people to its list of potential subscribers. But with the substantial increase in price, it's hard to know how many will actually sign up.

Evan Owens, founder of tech startup Pogoseat, isn't joining right now. But he remains intrigued by the potential for making new business contacts.

"It's really the network connections I think. You know, if I sit down and meet an awesome startup founder or an investor who ends up investing in Pogoseat, that makes Surf Air completely worth it," he says.

Another entrepreneur, Francis Pedraza of a startup called Everest, also notes the potential for networking. He adds that the promise of faster, door-to-door travel that's hassle-free is also appealing.

"If I know that they understand me and they care about every little detail of the user experience, I'm far more likely to go with them than some airline that I just don't think gets it or cares about me or has any clue what customer service means," he says.

Surf Air CEO Eyerly says he knows that if passengers aren't happy, they won't renew their subscriptions, and the airline will fail. But Eyerly, who's new to the airline industry, doesn't seem worried.

"This is a market desperate for disruption. Airlines are literally the only industry that ranked below cable companies for what people think of them — dead last among 47 industries surveyed. No one likes flying," he says.

Eyerly hopes that will change when Surf Air takes to the skies. The first flight is expected in a couple of weeks.

Story and Comments/Reaction:  http://www.npr.org


Surf Air:  http://www.surfair.com

Surf Air Receives FAA Approval; Private Air Travel Service Ready to Embark on a Revolution:  Santa Monica-Based Startup Also Secures Additional Funding to Bolster Team and Expansion

June 3, 2013, 12:58 p.m. ET 

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwired - Jun 3, 2013) - The highly anticipated membership-based private air service, Surf Air, today announced the receipt of its FAA Operating Certificate and a B round of funding led by Velos Partners and Base Ventures. Funding will enable Surf Air to grow its expanding team of industry-leading pilots and customer care associates and scale for future growth.

"The current airline industry is flawed and bogged down by bureaucracy and red tape -- it's begging for disruption and innovation, especially when it comes to business or commuter-style air travel," said Jared Reitzin, CEO of MobileStorm, Inc., and potential Member. "Surf Air is the first emerging company I've seen that truly gets and marries simplified travel and an enhanced customer-centric experience."

Starting June 12, Surf Air will introduce its Founding Members to a new, convenient and affordable way of air travel between the Los Angeles metro area and San Francisco Bay Area. For a nominal monthly fee, Members will have access to unlimited monthly intrastate flights and guest passes, exclusive member events and access to the first-class members-only concierge service.

"As investors we try to back smart founders pursuing bold ideas," said Erik Moore, early investor in Zappos and founder and managing director of Base Ventures. "It's clear that people are craving a service like Surf Air based on the number of people who have signed up for membership at the concept stage and well before the service was available."

Surf Air plans to expand its routes in the coming months. For more information visit us at www.surfair.com, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

About Surf Air


Surf Air is an all-you-can-fly private air travel membership that provides business and leisure travelers with exclusive, hassle-free air travel, saving valuable time and money. The company provides first-class service on executive aircraft to and from convenient local airports in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles metro area, with extended service to additional locations to follow. Operating out of local mid-sized airports, Surf Air offers an affordable and sophisticated travel experience for frequent regional travelers. For more information please visit www.surfair.com.


Source:  http://online.wsj.com

Surf Air:  http://www.surfair.com

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