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Private jet start-up that offers unlimited flights for $3,200 a month lands in Europe

Surf Air to offer unlimited flights to Europe for about $3,200 a month

Surf Air, a start-up airline that lets you pay £2,500 ($3,235) per month for unlimited private jet flights, is launching in Europe, the company announced on Friday.

The U.S. firm lets travelers take as many flights as they like per month from key business destinations in Europe from October. Initially, Surf Air will fly to and from London, Zurich, Geneva and Cannes before adding Paris and Dublin to its list of destinations.

Simon Talling-Smith, the European chief executive of Surf Air said the service is aimed at regular business travelers, offering them a quick service when they get to the airport.

"We fly to the private terminals and you only have to arrive fifteen minutes before you fly. You're greeted at the terminal by a Surf Air concierge, you have a coffee and walk onto the aircraft," Talling-Smith told CNBC in a phone interview on Friday.


The company flies eight-seater private jets, and so far has around 3,000 members – all of which are in the U.S. – since it was founded in 2011. Currently, Surf Air operates from California to other destinations and is now hoping to add to its numbers in Europe. So far, Surf Air has raised $18.76 million.

Getting a start-up airline off the ground is not an easy feat given the stiff competition and margin pressure in the airline industry. In Europe, a number of budget airlines such as Ryanair and easyJet provide extremely cheap travel to key destinations on the continent. The monthly £2,500 amounts to £30,000 for a full-year membership, and it's questionable whether this is any cheaper than buying individual flights for regular business travelers. The Surf Air Europe CEO thinks that the company's advantage lies in the convenience and flexibility it offers.

"We have had a lot of interest from the people we have been talking to and we have got hundreds of people interested in joining Surf Air and none have really raised price as a problem," Talling-Smith told CNBC.

"People can easily rack up that much, they are not buying flexible fares and business people do need to make changes. Every time you make a change on an airline they charge you. With Surf Air you are buying a flexible ticket. You can book your seat up to 30 minutes before flying and change as much as you like which is really important to business travelers."

Revenues doubled

The company appears to be growing quickly. Revenues in the year-to-date have doubled and Talling-Smith said the company estimates it will make an operating profit by the end of this quarter. It manages to keep costs down by having a small team – currently less than 200 in the U.S. – as well as technology-focused approach. Members can book tickets via the app for example.

Interestingly, while airlines try to fill every seat on the plane, Surf Air said that it limits the amount of passengers per aircraft to make sure there are always places available.

"What is important is that there is always a seat to book. We manage so that our load factor is 70 percent, so there is availability. Our business plan has a very healthy profit margin in it," Talling-Smith told CNBC.

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