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SurfAir will not be commencing its private aviation service out of SMO this summer, opting to fly out of another Southern California airport instead.
Courtesy photo
SurfAir will not be commencing its private aviation service out of SMO this summer, opting to fly out of another Southern California airport instead.

News, Santa Monica, Santa Monica Airport, Smo, Surf Air, Airlines

Surf Air To Catch Wave Out Of Santa Monica Airport

Posted Apr. 20, 2012, 1:51 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

The fun was over before it really ever started - at least for those special few who could afford the monthly fees to fly Surf Air in and out of Santa Monica Airport (SMO).

Thanks in part to the steady flow of general resident opposition to SMO’s operations, Surf Air does not intend to establish a residence at the local airport. It appears to be a case of a group not wanting to do business in a place where it is not welcome.

Surf Air CEO Wade Eyerly told The Mirror that many have lobbied the unique airline, which charges its members between $790 and $1,490 per month for all-you-can-fly reservations, to not offer its services at SMO.

“We would love to be in Santa Monica,” Eyerly said. “There’s clearly a minefield (against the airport) and we don’t want to step into it.”

Though based here in Santa Monica, Surf Air is now looking at other Southern California airports to offer its first-class-style service.

“We like to use an executive airport. We want to be sure there is enough infrastructure (such as car rental, hotels, freeways, etc.). We’re still shopping at some airports,” Eyerly told The Mirror, adding he expects the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approvals to be secured in time for Surf Air to start taking off this summer.

Eyerly added he sought to operate out of SMO because he believed the airport was in close proximity to a population that both flies regularly and fits Surf Air’s demographic.

“This is a great area with great weather. It’s a good demographic where a lot of our potential subscribers live. It’s a great airport, it’s historic,” he told The Mirror. “But there are a lot of homes in the area and the residents with very vocal.”

Martin Rubin, who has been a leading voice in opposition of SMO as a member of Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP) said while the resident concerns against both Surf Air and the airport as a whole were “pretty obvious,” he respects the private airline‘s decision to fly out of another location.

“I commend them for considering how they would affect the surrounding community. That has not been the case historically,” Rubin told The Mirror. “Santa Monica Airport is unique in how close it is to residential neighborhoods. So it should be treated uniquely (in how its operations are managed). People are not anti-airport, they are not anti-aviation, they are just anti-Santa Monica Airport.”

Pointing out that Surf Air’s fleet - which may have as many as eight or nine daily flights out of Southern California - feature softer engine sounds than other aircraft flying out of SMO, Eyerly said the subscription-based airline would have brought more jobs to Santa Monica had they ultimately decided to remain local.

“We employ a lot of people,” he told The Mirror, adding Surf Air would directly add 30 new jobs into the economy for every two airplanes it builds. “We would bring those jobs here.”

Still, Eyerly believes Surf Air would have been a boom for both SMO and local residents, adding that not only is there a market here for its unique services but may also help make a case to keep the airport operating beyond 2015.

In 2015, the agreement between the City of Santa Monica and the FAA is set to expire; City Hall, which owns SMO, has not ruled out closing the airport down completely - assuming it has the power to - once the lease expires.

A membership-only private airline, Surf Air anticipates jet-setting in and out of local airports across the United States starting this Summer, though current plans only feature routes within California.

The inaugural service flies from the Los Angeles area to Palo Alto with stops in Monterey and Santa Barbara along the way. Immediate expansion plans, according to the airline, will see service offered in Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, Napa Valley, Palm Springs, Sacramento, and San Diego.

“We’ll continue to plan expansion based on our member input and traveler demand for popular business and recreational traveler routes such as the Eastern corridor, Pacific Northwest, Texas, Florida and even international destinations,” the Surf Air website elaborated about expansion plans in 2013 and beyond.

Surf Air operates a fleet of eight Pilatus PC-12 aircrafts, which seat eight and is “an executive interior providing all the comforts of the ultimate first-class travel experience.”

The Surf Air website also describes its communal network of travelers as seeking a “better way to travel” and as an ideal way to fly for those who do want to avoid commercial aviation but cannot afford to claim an ownership stake in a personal aircraft.

Eyerly pointed out Surf Air is far more efficient than commercial aviation.

“We can get you to the Bay Area in 70 or 80 minutes while you buddy is still taking his shoes off at LAX,” he said.

A basic membership of $790 per month allows a member to make only two reservations at once. A top-tier member paying $1,490 per month may make up to six reservations at once; middle-tier members pay $990 per month for four reservations at a time. All members have “unlimited flights” privileges.

Other member benefits includes travel on an executive-type aircraft, no lines at airports, no additional fees beyond the cost of membership, and, for founding members, unlimited complimentary guest passes.

Surf Air was founded by brothers Wade and David Eyerly as part of a 12-week program as an incubator at Mucker Lab here in Santa Monica. There, the duo received funding, legal advice, marking, mentorship, and office space.

Wade Eyerly was a former campaign aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, while David Eyerly served as a manager at Fronteir Airlines.

Airport Director Bob Trimborn was not available for comment on behalf of SMO at press time.

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Comments

Apr. 20, 2012, 11:42:13 am

Sam said...

Wouldn't it be shocking if it were found out that prominent local real estate developers were monetarily rewarding those active in the anti Santa Monica Airport movement? NOT!

Apr. 20, 2012, 1:33:36 pm

James Ribe said...

Please please PLEASE close that airport! It is the one thing of all things that degrades the quality of life on the west side.

Apr. 20, 2012, 1:37:10 pm

Peter Kunstler said...

We need less traffic out of SMO, not more. Surf sounds like another wealthy persons toy at the expense of local residents, especially those who, like us, live in close proximity to the airport. The ariport is a danger to and a blight on a heavily populated area.

Apr. 23, 2012, 11:32:46 am

Liz J said...

Also the amount of typos in this article is terrible. Does the Mirror use proof readers at all? Anyone?? Wow.

Apr. 23, 2012, 11:30:50 am

Liz J said...

Assumption of the risk, people. You purchased a home for a price that reflected the fact that there was an airport in the area. To whine about the airport being at your 'expense' afterwards is ridiculous. The people that can afford to live in that neighborhood are plenty wealthy themselves, so it's really wealthy vs wealthy. Some people just want to buy low and then run everyone else out so their own property values increase. I think I'm going to move next to LAX and then try to close it.

Apr. 23, 2012, 4:15:14 pm

Tksinclair said...

They are quick to talk about providing 30 jobs an airplane but neglect to talk about how many if us currently doing private charter who will be losing our jobs. It's hundreds to their 30. We have been in business for over 36 years, family owned and employ o er 100 people. And that's one company. How many others will be in the same boat. Not to mention these are single engine aircraft that have a history of engine failures. Do they think people who have to revive their shoes in airports do so optionally? No sorry. Not all of us can afford $20k a year do we font gave to take our shoes off. What a pompous jerk. Yes, we know, people with money don't have to do the things those of us in the middle class need suffer. I'm so happy for you and your customers that you can buy your way around those inconveniences. I hope this business sinks like a rock and does so quickly. Before my co workers, all 99 of them, and I lose our jobs.

May. 2, 2012, 7:26:40 pm

Tony said...

Surf Air has now found out what others before them have realized - a lot of jealousy at people who want better service at better prices. The guy that says he's losing 100 jobs, you remind me of the stagecoach and buggy whip.

May. 4, 2012, 7:38:27 am

Thomas said...

Keep closing down businesses and punishing small businesses and start ups and soon all that will be left in Santa Monica is parking enforcement officers, government offices, and ultra liberal Nuevo rich people advocating high taxes who cheat on their own taxes. IE Greece

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