Surf Air's former CEO is starting a new Netflix style private membership airline in the Energy Corridor

By Doug Gollan, July 3, 2018

Tuxedo Air plans to offer a membership model in Texas and Oklahoma using the Piaggio P.180 Avanti with a twist – there’s a fee for each flight


While it has been a challenging run over the past six weeks for several air taxis and by-the-seat membership programs – Atlanta-based Imagine Air shuttering, Wijet putting its UK division into administration, Surf Air’s tax, and legal problems, JetSmarter rebooting its pricing approach – that hasn’t stopped others from announcing their intentions to jump into the space. ZED Aerospace said its Aura will launch a luxury by-the-seat scheduled private jet service flying nationwide by 2019, and AirChicago is pushing for a September launch of flights that would cater to Windy City travelers. Now Jeff Potter, who was CEO of Surf Air from February 2014 through June 2017, is listed as CEO of Tuxedo Air, which plans to begin flying this August. 

Tuxedo Air is launching a new private jet membership program

According to its website, Tuxedo Air will offer flights “throughout the heartland and the energy corridor” enabling members to book “any available seat up to 30 minutes” before departure and check-in for their flight up to 15 minutes before departure. A video shows that travelers who need to connect can shave travel time from nearly seven hours to under two hours saving time both with nonstop flights and being able to use private aviation facilities instead of congested commercial airport terminals.


Per its website, airports in Tuxedo Air’s network are to include: Austin, TX (KEDC, Austin Executive Airport), Dallas, TX (KTKI, McKinney National Airport), Fort Worth, TX (KFTW, Fort Worth Meacham International Airport), Houston, TX (KTME, Houston Executive Airport), Midland, TX (KMAF, Midland International Air and Space Port Airport), Oklahoma City, OK (KPWA, Wiley Post Airport), and Tulsa, OK (KRVS, Richard Lloyd Jones Jr. Airport).

Tuxedo Air plans by the seat flights in Texas and Oklahoma

A preliminary schedule provided by the company for prospects shows flights operating two to three times per week with one to two flights per day depending on routes. For example, Tulsa to Dallas McKinney is due to get two flights per day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays departing at 6:15 am and 1:00 pm. Return flights on the same days depart at 10:15 am and 5:15 pm, all with a scheduled duration of 45 minutes. Other initial routes to launch either August 1st on 20th include Tulsa to Austin, Houston, Odessa, Ft. Worth and Oklahoma City, according to the schedule we were received.


Tuxedo’s route map overlaps that of Rise, a pay one price and fly as much as you want Netflix style membership program acquired by Surf Air in June 2017, about the time Potter left.  Currently, Surf Air does not publish a publicly available schedule but shows a route map with Austin, Dallas, Houston and Midland.


Plans have apparently been in the works since at least December 2017 when Tuxedo Air launched a Facebook page promoting the Surf Air-like service. The company was registered as a business in December 2015 with David Guzman listed as the registered agent. While we weren’t able to speak to Potter, a representative told us flights will be operated by Brazos Valley Flight Services, a charter operator based in College Station, Texas that is opening a base in Tulsa. According to the representative and various posts, the operation will be via Avanti twin-engine turboprops seating six to seven passengers with a cruising speed of 366 miles per hour. The P180 shown in Tuxedo Air’s promotional video is registered to Southwest Aviation Specialties, LLC located in Tulsa, according to FlightAware. According to JetNet Aerodex, the company may currently own or manage up to eight of the type meaning it would be in a position to scale up quickly. Guzman is also listed as General Manager of Southwest Aviation Specialties.


Tuxedo Air Membership Pricing


Tuxedo Air is selling two types of memberships – Corporate and Individual – each with two pricing options. One corporate option allows two reservations per person at a time., in other words allowing a roundtrip or two one-way flights to be booked at the same time. It features a Monthly Fee Per Person of $1,300, plus a Destination Fee $290 per flight. The destination fee is a per flight charge. There is a commitment period of 12 months and it requires signing up a minimum of three people, plus a $1,000 initiation fee. For a company, it would mean $3,900 per month or $46,800 annually (for three employees) plus $290 for each flight. The second corporate program allows up to three reservations per person at a time. The Monthly Fee Per Person is $1,500 and the Destination Fee remains $290 per flight and also requires a minimum of three people, plus an Initiation Fee of $1,000 (see below graphic).

Tuxedo Air corporate membership pricing

One Individual Membership allowing two reservations at a time also requires a 12-month commitment with a Monthly Fee of $1,400, a Destination Fee of $290 per flight and an Initiation Fee of $1,000. A second Individual Membership enables you to make four reservations at a time with a Monthly Fee of $1,750, Destination Fee at $290 and Initiation Fee of $1,000. We were told the company plans to offer payments via direct bank transfers on a monthly basis.

Tuxedo Air membership pricing for indivudals

A Private Jet Card Comparisons analysis of the four programs based on either 50 or 100 flights per year by the member found that based on pricing on Tuxedo Air’s website, per flight costs range from $345 to $730, the programs that enable making more reservations concurrently being the more expensive. If you cancel at least 48 hours prior to departure, your $290 destination fee is refunded.

Memberships People Flights Full Year Per Month Fees Initiation Total Cost Cost/ Flight
Corporate with 2 reservations 3 50 $15,600 $1,000 $60,100 $400.67
Corporate with 2 resrvations 3 100 $15,600 $1,000 $103,600 $345.33
Corporate with 3 reservations 3 50 $18,000 $1,000 $62,500 $416.67
Corporate with 3 reservations 3 100 $18,000 $1,000 $106,000 $353.33
Individual with 2 reservations 1 50 $16,800 $1,000 $32,300 $646.00
Individual with 2 reservations 1 100 $16,800 $1,000 $46,800 $468.00
Individual with 4 reservations 1 50 $21,000 $1,000 $36,500 $730.00
Individual with 4 reservations 1 100 $21,000 $1,000 $51,000 $510.00

Potter’s LinkedIn profile shows he assumed the CEO position at Tuxedo Air in June. His resume includes stints in the corner office at Frontier Airlines, Vanguard Airlines and Exclusive Resorts as well as COO at Intrawest.


While the semi-private market has had its stops and starts, earlier this year JetSuite attracted a large investment from Qatar Airways and JetBlue, its second from the latter, with the plan to expand its JetSuiteX brand. Tradewind Aviation, which sells seats on scheduled private jet flights in the Northeast and Caribbean, apparently also on solid ground, took over flying for Surf Air in Texas.


What’s the outlook for Tuxedo Air?


While everyone agrees that flying commercially has become more of a hassle for a multitude of reasons, coach fares according to Google Flights during July and August from Tulsa to Midland ranged between $120 and $307 and from Tulsa to Dallas from $59 to $253 so Tuxedo is going to have to find members willing to pay a premium for its service. On the Tulsa to Dallas route American Airlines and Southwest together offer 14 daily weekday nonstops from 5 a.m. to 9:20 p.m. although on the flip side between Tulsa and Midland, there are no nonstops. Former American Airlines chairman Robert L. Crandall used to preach that when winning the hearts and wallets of business travelers, frequency beats comfort. Tuxedo Air will try to prove it’s an exception.

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