Surf Air Gets a $200 Million Lift, Plans to Go Public

Surf Air Gets a $200 Million Lift, Plans to Go Public

Subscription commuter airline Surf Air has always been favored by wealthy tech executives; now it wants to bring its service to the masses and it's secured a $200 million investment to do it, with an eye toward going public.

The Santa Monica-based company is backed by Global Emerging Markets Group, which has committed to providing the company $50 million once it's listed.


The remaining funds will be distributed over the next three years. CEO Sudhin Shahani shared with dot.LA that they plan to go public through either a direct listing, IPO or SPAC merger but have not yet finalized their decision.

Surf Air CEO, Sudhin Shahani

The company wants to use the money to create a zero-emission fleet, bring down the cost of service — now starting around $2,000 — and increase ridership. They are appealing to people that are taking short jaunts under 400 miles.

"As we go through the process of electrification, which significantly makes the cost cheaper and has been moved to shorter routes, we also aim to replace driving," said Shahani.

Earlier this year Surf Air acquired flight-booking platform BlackBird as it beefed up its appeal to wealthy leisure travelers. It also added Airbnb's former global head of transportation Fred Reid as its new chief strategy officer, a nod to its international ambitions.

The investment comes as commercial airlines have been pummeled by the pandemic. Last month, the company began offering charter flights for weekend getaways — a departure from their regular subscription model. And it's teamed up with AutoCamp to offer "glamping" packages as business passengers have declined.

Surf Air currently offers subscriptions for a flat monthly fee, ranging from $2,000 a month per member to $5,000 a month for companies with multiple users.

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Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

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