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All-you-can-fly airline hopes to get off the ground

April 05, 2012|By Hugo Martin

Can an all-you-can-fly, membership airline get off the ground?

A team of brothers plans to launch a Santa Monica-based airline to serve executives and others who are willing to pay a monthly membership fee for unlimited travel up and down the California coast.

The concept is not new and has been fairly successful primarily with larger, commercial airlines.

Santa Monica-based Surf Air plans to begin accepting members Thursday to fly between Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Monterey and Palo Alto starting in May.

The airline would charge members a monthly fee, starting at $790, for unlimited flights between the four destinations on small eight-passenger aircraft. The flights will take off on a schedule to be established later, based on the demand of members.

Surf Air is founded by Wade Eyerly, a former campaign aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney, and his brother, David, a former manager at Frontier Airlines.

The brothers attempted to launch a similar operation on the East Coast last year under the name PlaneRed but decided instead to relocate it to the West Coast after working with MuckerLab, a technology incubator in Los Angeles, according to a Surf Air spokeswoman.

"Surf Air's subscription membership pricing will fundamentally change the way people travel and revolutionize the business model for the airline industry," the company said in a statement.

All-you-can-fly deals are not new. New York-based JetBlue and Minnesota-based Sun Country Airlines briefly offered one-month, all-you-can-fly deals a couple of years ago, resulting in strong sales for both airlines.

But there are stark differences between Surf Air and the others. JetBlue charged $699 and Sun Country charged $499 for a month of travel to dozens of destinations, including Mexico and the Caribbean.

Surf Air said it plans eventually to expand to other destinations, including Las Vegas, Palm Springs, San Diego, Sacramento, Lake Tahoe and the Napa area.

Also:

LAX unveils $238-million renovation of Alaska Airlines terminal

Fee change is planned for airlines

J.D. Power gives low-fare airlines high marks for service


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