LONDON • United States subscription-based airline Surf Air launched in Europe yesterday in a bid to tap into the frequent flier market, challenging the continent's traditional airlines with a model of unlimited flights for a monthly fee.
Surf Air Europe's first flight will be from London Luton to Ibiza, and for a subscription of £1,750 (S$3,090) a month, customers will be able to fly within Europe to destinations such as Cannes, Zurich, Geneva and Milan as much as they like.
Surf Air Europe chief executive Simon Talling-Smith said that between US and European operations, it hopes to achieve revenues of US$100 million (S$139 million) for this year, with European flights making up about a fifth of the group's total business by the end of the year.
The London-headquartered airline will try to better what its sister company, Surf Air, has done in California. Launched in 2013, that firm now has 3,000 members.
He also confirmed that the group was ordering Embraer and Pilatus planes. "In the US, we have 12 Pilatus, and we have another 43 on order. We've just now taken delivery of our first jet aircraft, which is an Embraer Phenom 300, which will be operating in Europe," Mr Talling-Smith told Reuters. "We intend to build up a similar-sized fleet of jets over the next three to five years."
He said that a couple of hundred people had pre-purchased memberships ahead of the launch, and that this was in line with his expectations.
Surf Air says that it provides flexibility for business passengers who need to travel. The £1,750 monthly fee compares with a last-minute, flexible business class return between London and Zurich for about £500.
It also cuts down on waiting times at airports. "We have the opportunity for our members to get to the airport just 15 minutes before the flight goes," Mr Talling-Smith said.