Private Jet by the seat comes to Europe
As previously reported, Surf Air Europe last week launched on June 23rd with a single route from London’s Luton Airport to Ibiza, Spain. London to Cannes starts on July 4, and after that Zurich looks like it will join the network in September. The U.S. by the seat private aviation membership provider has been operating since 2013. This demonstrates Surf Air’s confidence in expanding this service into Europe.
Today Private Jet Card Comparisons spoke with its CEO Simon Talling-Smith. “I think this is a giant opportunity. Globally short-haul (commercial airline travel) is a $700 billion market and nobody is targeting or catering to the business traveler who wants reasonable comfort. The airlines are being forced by the Low-Cost Carriers in a race to the bottom. For the top 5 to 10 % of the commercial market, Surf Air takes away the pain with ease and simplicity. You avoid commercial airports and get on a small executive aircraft with like-minded people and have a pleasurable travel experience,” he said.
The company claims over 4,000 members in the U.S. with a network that recently expanded from California to Texas with the acquisition of RISE, which was using a similar membership concept. Surf Air members reserve single seats on flights.
Surf Air Europe is a subsidiary of Surf Air Global. In Europe, Surf Air doesn’t operate aircraft. Surf Air Europe Ltd is a licensee of the trademarks and technology of Surf Airlines, Inc. Flights will be operated on Surf Air Europe Ltd’s behalf by Flair Jet Ltd which is licensed as an air carrier in accordance with EU and UK law by the UK Civil Aviation Civil Authority.
Surf Air Europe Ltd will make flights available to its members who will pay a membership fee entitling them to book seats. Flights will be operated on Surf Air Europe Ltd’s behalf by Flair Jet Ltd which is licensed as an air carrier in accordance with EU and UK law by the UK Civil Aviation Civil Authority and will exercise full operational control of the aircraft. An operator for its Pilatus PC-12 will be announced shortly. This arrangement means even as Brexit separates the U.K. from the European common market, it won’t impact Surf Air. The London-based company just needs to contract operators with EU licenses.
Luggage allowance is 15 kilos checked baggage plus a briefcase or purse to carry-on. The company has a partnership with a luggage expediter that will pick up your bags at your home and deliver them to wherever you are going, hotel or villa. There isn’t WiFi on the flights, but there are complimentary wines, spirits, and snacks.
There will be a mix of Embraer Phenom 300 and Pilatus PC-12, the latter being used for shorter flights. London-Zurich flights will be operated by jets as are flights to Ibiza and Cannes, but Zurich to Munich and Luxembourg will be the Pilatus. Talling-Smith envisions as many of 50 planes flying over the next several years.
Members book on their smartphones. There are no fees for changing or canceling flights. You need to arrive at the terminal at least 15 minutes before departure. Because Surf Air keeps details of members, Talling-Smith says customs and immigrations can be accommodated in the same way, at the FBO, as if you had chartered an entire aircraft.
Geneva-Milan Linate is a possible route. Right now there is no scheduled airline service and the alternative is a four-to-five hour train trip or driving through the congested Mont Blanc tunnel. According to a route map in the material being sent to prospective members, Amsterdam, Dublin, Geneva, Paris, Barcelona, Frankfurt and Berlin could also be coming. While many of these will use commercial airports, they will use private aviation facilities bypassing the main terminals.
We like that while deposits are nominal, Surf Air is keeping them in a separate fund and not using them for working capital. Once memberships are activated, deposits are applied to those costs. Below are the memberships being offered.
This membership offers access to Surf Air’s full network of flights, unlimited flying on all Surf Air routes in Europe for a fixed monthly fee per person of £3,150, including London-Cannes or £3,650 with London-Ibiza.
All-you-can-fly Select Membership
Select Membership is £ 2,250 per month or £ 1,750 presale with a refundable £ 1,000 deposit. This enables you to fly as much as you want on routes between Zurich and Luxembourg, Munich and Milan, plus London-Dusseldorf when they begin.
All-you-can-fly Prime Membership
Prime Membership is £ 3,650 with a refundable £ 1,000 deposit. In addition to the above Select routes, Prime members can fly on routes from London to Zurich, Milan, and Cannes when they begin.
This membership allows you to buy bulk flights, which cost £1,250 to £1,500 per one-way seat, according to pricing provided for Ibiza. There are three tiers. Tier 1 gives you eight roundtrips to £ 24,000. Tier 2 is 12 return flights for £33,000 and Tier 3 is £40,000, providing 16 roundtrips. A roundtrip from either London’s City Airport or Gatwick in Business Class by British Airways for a Thursday to Sunday roundtrip varies from $534 to $579.
Surf Air Anywhere Membership
Anywhere membership pitched as an alternative to on-demand charter. Round trips from £ 2,600 per person.
“Anywhere Membership is our option for members who want to go on trips off schedule or destinations where we don’t fly. It gives them the opportunity to aggregate a flight,” Talling-Smith told us. For example, you want to go to the Austrian Grand Prix with two friends. You set the times and each of you pays £ 2,600. Surf Air then promotes the flight and when it gets a total of six passengers at the fixed rate, you are off to the races so to speak. If you don’t get six takers for your flight, you and your friends can opt to make up the difference. For flights longer than two hours and very short flights there is “bespoke” pricing.