Small airlines in California and Texas that use a similar business model – charging a monthly membership fee for “all-you-can-fly” service – are merging.
Santa Monica-based Surf Air said it has acquired Texas-based Rise; Surf Air offers small private aircraft flights in intra-California markets, and Rise does the same in Texas.
The company said that together, Surf Air and Rise will operate 445 flights a week to 17 destinations.
The companies will also add new markets: “As part of the agreement, the combined entities also announced plans to quickly expand to additional markets within the next 18 months,” Surf Air said, including Las Vegas, Nev.; Bentonville, Ark. (home of Walmart headquarters); Midland, Tex. (a major energy center); New Orleans, La.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Taos, N.M. Certain membership levels will also qualify for weekend service to leisure destinations like Cabo San Lucas, Aspen and Sun Valley, the company said.
The Rise brand will be changed to Surf Air, and “a new fleet of Surf Air aircraft will be brought to Texas to fly the scheduled Rise routes between Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio,” Surf Air said.
Destinations currently served by Surf Air include the Los Angeles area (Hawthorne and Burbank), Santa Barbara, the Bay Area (Oakland, San Carlos and San Jose), Napa Valley, Truckee/Lake Tahoe, San Diego, Carlsbad, Palm Springs and Monterey. The carrier operates up to 90 flights a day in California.
Surf Air said that after the merger is complete, it expects to link up its California and Texas networks. A Surf Air membership starts at $1,950 a month. Both companies also offer “block pricing” that allows travelers to purchase a package of a specific number of flights without committing to a monthly membership.
The company has set up a page on its website where members and prospective members can vote on specific new routes they’d like to see added to the existing network.