In contrast to the private jet operators mentioned in Part 1 of this series, California-based Surf Air (www.surfair.com) is not a flight booking service — it’s an actual airline, but a members-only one that offers all-you-can-fly service to and from several airports — mainly between southern California and Silicon Valley — for rates starting at $1,750 a month.
Two-year-old Surf Air, which calls itself “the nation’s first private air travel club,” doesn’t use jets but instead relies on a fleet of Swiss-made Pilatus PC-12 single-engine turboprops. It currently claims some 1,400 members, with another 600 on a waiting list, and has plans to add service to more cities in California, including Sacramento, Santa Rosa and Palm Springs. Its fleet is expected to grow from eight to 15 planes by year’s end.
Surf Air already inspired an imitator: Two months ago, three of Surf Air’s co-founders announced plans to launch a similar venture called Beacon (www.flybeacon.com) in the northeastern U.S. It is poised to launch this summer, initially with service between New York and Boston — as well as Nantucket and the Hamptons on Long Island — with all-you-can-fly memberships starting at $2,000 a month. No word yet on aircraft types, but the company said it will offer travel on “mid-sized executive aircraft.”
Want more? Similar to Ubair (mentioned in Part 1) JetSmarter (https://jetsmarter.com) is an app that lets users quickly find private jet transportation by tapping their origin and destination cities and travel dates into their smartphones to see a list of what planes are available for charter and at what prices, from a variety of operators. The company also helps users save money by showing “empty leg” options — planes that are flying empty between assignments and will take on passengers to bring in some extra revenue.
“Our application democratizes the private jet market by decreasing the entry price for consumers and helping air carriers gain more market exposure,” JetSmarter says.
A European private aircraft charter service called Victor (www.flyvictor.com) just got $8 million in funding to expand its business to these shores, noting that the U.S. accounts for 49.7 percent of the world market for private aviation.
Like its rivals, Victor has come out with an iOS mobile app that it says will provide “unprecedented customer access to real-time charter pricing, aircraft and crew specifics, side-by-side available jet comparisons, instant booking, travel itineraries and trip management.” Victor said it can give customers access to 7,000 business jets worldwide through its various partnerships with operators.
In case you missed it, here’s Part 1 of our two-part series on flying private.
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