Wade Eyerly, co-founder and former CEO of Surf Air, the intra-California all-you-can-fly members’ airline, last month introduced Beacon, a similar service for the Northeast set to launch this summer. Service will begin with scheduled flights on a mixed fleet of PC-12s and King Air 350s between New York and Boston, and the company will then add the Hamptons and Nantucket on weekends.
Like Surf Air, the company will charge a monthly fee (starting at $2,000) to provide members (500 initially) unlimited access to flights. But unlike Surf Air, which owns and operates its PC-12 fleet, Boston-based Beacon will partner with Part 135 operators with FAA interstate commuter authorization, enabling the company to offer a Surf Air-style customer experience without the operational headaches.
“We spent a lot of time [at Surf Air] chasing new aircraft” to put into service, said Eyerly, Beacon’s CEO. The key to Beacon’s initial success will rest on having an ample number of flights between the launch cities, Eyerly believes. “We learned how important frequency is, so if you’re going to miss a flight, you know you can still get to the meeting. Instead of three or four cities, we’re just doing New York and Boston, and we’ll be able to give that level of service.” The company has sent requests for proposals (RFPs) to a number of Part 135 operators but “hasn’t narrowed down” the list of potential partners yet.
Also aboard the start up are Surf Air co-founders Cory Cozzens and Reed Farnsworth. “We didn’t intend to do another airline,” Eyerly said, but the trio decided to follow the credo “Innovators take the credit, but imitators make the money.” More such ventures might be on the way. “A lot of folks say, ‘Help me build a similar business here,’” Eyerly observed. “We’d like to do that, whether reciprocal arrangements or expanding the brand into other locations. There are significant opportunities inside and outside the U.S., and the business model is more flexible than if you’re buying airplanes. Nobody knows the subscription aviation model better than we do.”
Eyerly said he and his team do not have a non-compete agreement with Surf Air but noted they are still shareholders and “wish nothing but the best for Surf Air.” Boston-based Romulus Capital led the first round of fundraising for Beacon. Eyerly declined to disclose the new service’s capitalization.