Surf Air, pioneer of the subscription-based, all-you-can-fly airline model, has snapped up fellow operator Rise in a drive to expand its US footprint.
The company – based in Santa Monica, California – calls the acquisition “a big step” towards its goal of growing the Surf Air brand. “It ushers in the next phase of growth for this emerging form of travel,” it says. “We are giving our members more of what they want; more flights, more destinations and more value.”
Surf Air was launched in 2013 offering members unlimited scheduled flights to VIP terminals within its small California-based route network, for a fixed monthly fee. The service used a trio of pre-owned Pilatus PC-12s, operated by local aircraft management company Encompass Aviation.
Today Surf Air offers 90 daily flights within California for its 3,000-plus members, using a dozen Encompass-operated PC-12s. The company also has 45 of the eight-seat, single-engined turboprops on order.
Rise – launched in 2014 – provides an all-you-can-fly service for its 1,000 members between the Texan cities of Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The company uses a fleet of bespoke Beechcraft King Air 350s owned and operated by a handful of local charter companies. The twin-engined turboprops will be replaced with Surf Air’s branded PC-12s.
The incorporation of the Rise operation is expected to take around 90 days, when the combined business will offer 445 weekly flights to 17 destinations, says Surf Air.
The company has its sights on further expansion, with six more cities expected to be added to its US network by the end of 2018, including: Las Vegas, Nevada; New Orleans, Louisiana; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Taos, New Mexico.
Meanwhile, Surf Air’s European venture is set to launch on 23 June with London Luton to Ibiza, Spain as its inaugural route. The service will be supported by an Embraer Phenom 300, managed and operated by UK business aviation services provider, Flairjet.
London to Cannes will be added on 4 July, says Surf Air chief executive Simon Talling-Smith, followed by Luxembourg, Milan and Zurich in the last quarter.
The first PC-12NGs will join the fleet in September, and Surf Air will announce its partner operator “shortly after”, says Talling-Smith.