Surf Air pulls the plug on Europe; plans to focus on U.S. operation

By Doug Gollan, November 28, 2018

The Netflix style all-you-can-fly by-the-seat private flight membership seller had launched flights in Europe last year


Surf Air last week has retreated from Europe. It comes less than 18 months after it launched flights with a single Embraer Phenom 300 and the promise of additional aircraft, including the Pilatus PC-12. As part of the launch, Surf Air had recruited the former chairman of the British Airways – American Airlines transatlantic alliance Simon Talling-Smith and had enlisted Flairjet, the U.K. operator owned by Directional Aviation to operate its Phenom.


“We did stop offering memberships in Europe. We shut down the European company last week and have decided to focus on our core markets in the U.S.,” Surf Air chairman and CEO Sudhin Shahani told Private Jet Card Comparisons.


After initially operating from London’s Luton Airport to Ibiza and Cannes for the summer, it launched a Luton – Zurich route before transferring it to London City Airport. It had published a route map with future cities that includes the likes of Brussels, Vienna, Amsterdam and Geneva. When the expansion came, it was instead a deal with JetClass allowing Surf Air members to book seats on flights JetClass was chartering.


As it was launching Europe last year, Surf Air also plucked up Texas-based Rise that was offering a similar membership model in the Lone Star State. While there have been rumors that the flights there would be cut, Shahani said, “We do not have a plan to suspend Texas.” An executive with Tradewind Aviation which has been operating flights for Surf Air declined to comment.


In California, last year, Surf Air also changed operators after eschewing its original model of operating its own aircraft. It was also cited by the IRS for unpaid taxes. More recently, Surf Air was in the news with a crowdfunding effort based on a new Surf Air Express membership program it plans to launch.

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