Surf Air Targets Short-haul Flights with BlackBird Buy

 - February 25, 2020, 12:04 PM
Surf Air's charter fleet includes Pilatus PC-12 single-engine turboprops. (Photo: Surf Air)

Private aviation membership company Surf Air has acquired online charter and per-seat marketplace BlackBird to create Surf Air Mobility Corp., which will target short-haul charter flights ranging from 50 to 400 miles.

“Similar to the way that three-sided marketplaces have transformed the home and ridesharing economies, BlackBird has unlocked the potential of general aviation with a simple consumer experience and by tapping into an existing underutilized asset base to create affordable on-demand flying,” said Surf Air CEO Sudhin Shahani. “Combining this with our scheduled membership platform will bring increased value and options to both of our customer bases and current and future operating partners.”

BlackBird founder and CEO Rudd Davis said 50 percent of all flights in the world are less than 500 miles and represent “a massive opportunity for us today.” As part of the acquisition, Davis has been named COO of Surf Air Mobility. “That opportunity will only grow as electric fixed-wing aircraft come to market over the next 24 months, making flying cheaper than driving,” he added.

The new company also has added Peter Evans, former head of operations for Virgin Atlantic Airways, as head of operations, including oversight of its safety requirements and vetting and safety policies of all Part 135 operators on the network.

San Francisco-based BlackBird developed an iPhone and Android app that allows users to join an existing flight plan and purchase open seats or select a charter operated by a Part 135 provider. Surf Air is a Santa Monica, California-based broker of all-you-can-fly charter flights in California and Texas and to date has raised more than $125 million in venture capital.