Surf Air Cleared for TakeoffMonday, June 3, 2013
Surf Air in Santa Monica was always an appealing company to investors and future customers. It offered a new type of airline that would shuttle passengers in commuter jets to and from small airports along the West Coast. Plus, for a monthly fee, subscribers could have unlimited flights.
It was the Netflix-ification of airline travel. The only problem was it hadn’t flown a single flight.
But the slow-moving federal approval process that has dogged Surf Air for nearly a year appears to have been completed. The Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday gave the airline the all clear, and limited flights for passengers are scheduled to commence June 12.
The company also announced it had raised another $7 million in venture capital funding in an A round led by Velos Partners and Base Ventures. Adding in the seed round from 2012, Surf Air has now taken in $11 million, which, for the time being, gives the startup plenty of runway.
It’s been a long route arriving at this moment for the not-particularly-tech company that graduated from Santa Monica tech accelerator MuckerLab in spring 2012. Initially the plan was for the airline to begin operations late last summer.
Surf Air’s local hub was also supposed to be Santa Monica Municipal Airport, but that’s now switched to Burbank.
Company co-founder Wade Eyerly (his brother Dave is the other founder) has remained patient during all the delays. In previous conversations with the Business Journal, he’s said the FAA was moving at a pace no slower than it would with any other new airline. Though, clearly not much faster.
The first flights will be from Burbank to San Carlos – a route connecting Los Angeles to Silicon Valley, which was an initial appeal to SufAir’s tech-heavy customer list. Eyerly calls the June 12 launch “a beta,” with the fledgling airline assessing when and how to roll out to other promised destinations. Currently the company employs 24 pilots full-time and has bought several private jets. The monthly fee for unlimited flights is set at $1,650