NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Traditional commercial airlines need not be concerned, but they should definitely take notice — there's a new business model in the airline industry.
The country's first subscription airline launched recently and already has 1,600 members and 400 people on a waiting list.
Surf Air, based in Santa Monica, Calif., costs about $1,750 per month (plus a $1,000 initiation fee). That's about the cost of a first-class ticket in some markets. But for that fee, Surf Air members fly the airline as many times as they want during a 30-day period. It's a model that has earned much praise and publicity, including Surf Air being called "One of America's most promising companies of 2015" by Forbes.
"There's a definitely a market for this type of offering," says Ron Peri, chief executive of Radixx International, an airline reservation and distribution systems provider. "A lot of executives will be drawn to it because it has a private jet feel. They get to escape the rat race of the big commercial airports and the indignity of airport checks."
The company offers up to 90 daily flights on routes between about one dozen secondary airports in California, typically small airports that cater to private jets.
Flying from such uncrowded locations is a key part of the airline's value proposition. Promising to remove the stress from flying, Surf Air says members never have to wait on the long lines associated with typical airports (they bypass TSA security) and get free parking and checked luggage. Surf Air passengers are greeted by a concierge and board a plane within just a few minutes of arrival.