Less than six months after taking flight, the all you can fly membership airline is making a big move, just a short distance, moving its London operations some 50 miles from Luton Airport to London City Airport in December. Initially, the schedule will feature the same weekday daily nonstops to Zurich with plans to go double daily in the coming months, CEO Simon Talling-Smith tells Private Jet Card Comparisons. He adds, “We will be operating our first (Pilatus) PC-12s from the Zurich base into Luxembourg and Munich (and) we’re also looking carefully at Zurich-Frankfurt and Zurich-Brussels.”
Surf Air launched at the beginning of the summer flying from Luton to Ibiza and Cannes using the Embraer Phenom 300. Operating from private jet terminals, like its U.S. sister, the company promises to cut total travel time by more than half in some cases by eliminating the time it takes to traverse through a large commercial airport. Passengers can arrive at the airport up to 15 minutes before departure with Surf Air. Still, competition from the large European airlines is intense. Google Flights shows that British Airways and Swiss combine for 10 daily weekday nonstops in each direction on the LCY-ZRH route with Business Class fares as low as $326 during early December. Between Zurich and Frankfurt, Lufthansa Group’s Lufthansa and Swiss offer six daily nonstop flights each direction, however, fares range to over $1,000 one-way for a business ticket. The train can be had for about $100 but takes approximately four hours. Between Brussels and Zurich nonstop flights currently range between $249 and $1,141 for the 80-minute trip.
According to its website, Surf Air offers two membership levels:
– Select Members fly European routes under 600km from £1,750 per month
– Prime Members fly all European and US routes from £3,150 per month
One-way flights for non-members are £1,300.
In the U.S., Surf Air has carved a niche in California mainly avoiding large airports such as Los Angeles International and San Francisco International serving smaller local and regional airports with a fleet of Pilatus PC-12 turboprops. Many of its customers previously flew on Southwest Airlines and defected to Surf Air due to the time savings on the short hops. Earlier this year it bought Texas-based RISE and more recently announced a new membership program targeting weekend travelers.
In Europe, Surf Air had been offering free flights to top-level members of European airline frequent flier programs to publicize its new service.