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New airline to offer unlimited travel among 4 California cities

April 06, 2012|By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times

Two brothers are launching an airline to serve executives and others who are willing to pay a hefty monthly membership fee for unlimited travel up and down the California coast.

Surf Air in Santa Monica began enrolling members Thursday to fly between airports in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Monterey and Palo Alto starting in May. It's not a new concept; larger commercial airlines have tried the all-you-can-fly concept on a limited basis.

Surf Air will charge 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. Customers must buy a minimum three-month membership.

Surf Air was founded by Wade Eyerly, a former campaign aide to 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 a Surf Air spokeswoman said the brothers decided instead to relocate it to the West Coast after working with MuckerLab, a technology business development firm.

"We are fulfilling a real need in the marketplace, a professional and affordable service between very popular regions," Wade Early said in a statement.

JetBlue Airways in New York and Sun Country Airlines in Minnesota have both briefly offered all-you-can-fly deals for a limited time in the past, resulting in strong sales for both airlines. JetBlue offered the deal for one-month and three-month periods.

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

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

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