Private flight provider Surf Air has signaled its intention to step up its expansion into the advanced air mobility sector by announcing a $200 million investment commitment from Luxembourg-based Global Emerging Markets Group (GEM)in its Surf Air Mobility division. The California-based group formed Surf Air Mobility in February 2020 when it acquired aviation marketplace BlackBird as part of a strategy to introduce zero-emission alternatives to existing turbine-powered private aircraft.
The agreement with GEM calls for Surf Air Mobility to be publicly traded. On the first day of trading, for which a date has yet to be announced, GEM will provide a $50 million advance, with the remaining funds to be made available over a three year period. According to Surf Air Mobility, proceeds from the investment will be used to develop and acquire leading technologies in the zero-emission space. The funding from GEM will allow the company to continue adding organic growth, executing strategic new initiatives, and acquiring leading technology players in the space, said Surf Air Mobility CEO Sudhin Shahani.
According to Surf Air Mobility, it will be looking to transform its fleet with all-electric fixed-wing aircraft rather than eVTOL models. The company says it is focusing on serving sectors of between 50 and 400 miles. It holds more than 100 commitments to order Bye Aerospace's new eFlyer 2 and eFlyer 4 electric aircraft.
Parent group Surf Air provides a mix of private flight membership services and scheduled flights. It currently operates a fleet of Pilatus PC-12NG single turboprop aircraft.
“The launch of Surf Air Mobility and our acquisition of aviation marketplace BlackBird were the first steps in our original goal to bring the benefits of private aviation to the masses,” he added. “Now, we look to help drive the industry’s inevitable electrification, as that will play a critical role in making private travel accessible to all.”
Fred Reid, former global head of transportation for Airbnb, comes on board as Surf Air Mobility’s new chief strategy officer. In a career that spans three decades, Reid guided the launch of Virgin America as founding CEO, served as president and COO for both Delta Air Lines and Lufthansa, and headed fractional provider Flexjet. Before his stint at Airbnb, Reid was the president of eVTOL startup Wisk, which is a partnership between Boeing and Kitty Hawk that is developing the Cora eVTOL aircraft.
Surf Air Mobility is also adding two members to the company’s board: Carl Albert, the former owner of Fairchild Dornier and founder of Wings West, and Edward Mady, the former head of Dorchester Group North America.