LONDON Feb 23 U.S. subscription-based airline
Surf Air will launch in Europe in May, targeting people who fly
business-class in a potential challenge to the continent's
Surf Air Europe will start connecting London to Zurich and
Ibiza, operating a subscription model where customers pay a
1,750 pound ($2,180) monthly fee for unlimited travel.
It will later add routes to Cannes, Munich and Milan, Surf
Air Europe Chief Executive Simon Talling-Smith said.
The London-headquartered airline will try to better what its
sister company, Surf Air, has done in California. Launched three
years ago, that company now has 3,000 members.
Talling-Smith said Surf Air Europe could exceed the size of
the Californian operations.
Surf Air has ordered 45 Swiss-made Pilatus
eight-seat jets ahead of the launch, and a similar-sized order
of Embraer planes to serve longer-distance routes
will be placed later this year.
Talling-Smith said the smaller planes and private terminals
that Surf Air uses cut the waiting times associated with flying
by commercial airlines.
"You have this great thirst in the market for something
that's going to be able to cut out all of that wasted time, and
Surf Air is the answer to that," Talling-Smith told Reuters.
"If you travel two times a week or three times a week, you
really know the pain and frustration of going through airports."
The new service could take some of British Airways's
and Swiss International Air Lines's most
lucrative customers away: those who tend to fly business class
and pay extra for flexible tickets.
The 1,750 pound monthly fee compares with a last minute,
flexible business class ticket between London and Zurich for
about 500 pounds.
The European launch was due to be take place in October last
year, but was postponed after Surf Air said it needed to secure
the right aircraft deal.
($1 = 0.8027 pounds)
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Susan Thomas)