Surf Air Europe Phenom 300
Surf Air began operations in Europe early last year with an Embraer Phenom 300 operated by Flairjet, but was more recently using Citation Mustangs flown by Globe Air before it ceased operations in the region in late November. (Photo: Surf Air Europe)

Surf Air Pulls Out of Europe

Operator pulls out of Europe after only 18 months as it focuses on U.S. growth.

Santa Monica, California–based Surf Air has closed its European operation, which was flying Cessna Citation Mustangs under Globe Air’s Air Operator's Certificate (AOC), with scheduled services from London City Airport. Surf Air’s core model is an all-you-can-fly membership with access to scheduled "semi-private” flights.

“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 Doug Gollan of Private Jet Card Comparisons. Surf Air Europe commenced operations in early 2017 from London Luton Airport using a single Embraer Phenom 300, which was operated by FlairJet. Its first routes were to Cannes in France and the Spanish island of Ibiza in the summer. It subsequently added a Zurich, Switzerland connection and wanted to add cities such as Amsterdam, Holland; Brussels, Belgium; and Geneva.

Before starting flights to Zurich, Surf Air moved its European base to London City Airport, citing member demand for the decision. The company talked about adding more aircraft, such as Pilatus PC-12NGs, which have formed the core of its U.S. West Coast operation.

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Simon Talling-Smith, who joined the company to run its European arm having previously run British Airways’ transatlantic alliance with American Airlines, has left Surf Air.

The company was started in California in 2013 and has grown steadily, linking cities in California and Texas using Pilatus PC-12NGs. Sur Air is “now serving 11 destinations in California and Nevada with many more to come,” according to its website.

Its European operations have not been all clear sailing, however, and early on it decided to contract with third-party operators rather than having its own aircraft. In late October, the company launched a crowdfunding effort on Indiegogo ahead of a planned launch of Surf Air Express. It announced this move saying it wanted to “bring semi-private air travel to everyone,” offering “an affordable ‘per-seat’ membership with seat prices comparable to business and last-minute economy fares.”

Surf Air Express flights will begin at the conclusion of the Indiegogo campaign and require an annual membership fee of $2,500. One way flights start at $445.