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Shuttle Service



Why are we surprised? AGAIN? The most recent private jet shuttle company to bite the dust – Surf Air!

Ok! Fine… They were actually taken over by Encompass Aviation according to AINonline. Nonetheless, these all-you-can-fly start-ups are raising money and then failing. We are beginning to wonder if the entire plot is a scheme from inception. In this case, Surf Air surrendered their FAA Part 135 operating certificate to Encompass Aviation and subleased all 12 of their aircraft to them as well. As for their non-California routes… they are brokering those out. Interestingly, all of this occurred back in May but we are just hearing about it. Thank goodness for the pilots that they are all still employed, as Encompass retained them. According to AINonline, it seems as though Encompass’ business model, moving forward, will be more geared toward FAA Part 121, commercial, operations but the immediate future is simply just to gain inter-state flying authorization; presumably, to also take over the routes Surf Air is currently brokering out.

Remember last October when we blogged about “The Uber of Private Jets,” failing? These business models sound great but they don’t make sense from an economical standpoint. When you take into consideration the costs associated simply with operating the aircraft, advertising, technology investments (apps and websites), crew salary and office staff, etc… the ability to operate outside of the red becomes very unlikely. Further, the likeliness of a lot of empty seats as you get your name out there and work hard to bring on paying members is inevitably going to result in operating at a substantial loss. There is simply no way around it.

It is alarming to companies like us who are working hard to do honest business with our customers when we hear of the nonsense many startups are selling. Perhaps just as disappointing is how they seem to be scamming investors. IF, and we mean IF, the founders of these startups have any aviation experience (many do not), they have to know the possibility of not failing, and actually becoming profitable, is not as likely as we are guessing they are presenting to investors (who probably have even less aviation experience). There are many quotes about how aviation is the fastest way to go broke, but perhaps the most applicable, in this instance, is “Crime wouldn’t pay if the FAA took it over and would go bankrupt if an airline management did.”

Are private jet shuttle service providers the real deal or just false advertisement? Recently I ran across an article in Forbes with a title that highlighted the claim of a new shuttle service’s CEO: a shuttle service is better than a private jet… REALLY? I am apalled! How dare he? A fancy exterior paint job on an old 30 passenger Embraer ERJ 135 does not result in private jet status… nor does a red carpet unrolled in a hanger with some ropes compare to a high quality FBO; let’s keep it real! Perhaps the article would have been titled better if it read, “New shuttle service sells a pipe dream!”

The article went on to highlight the inconveniences, and in this day and age even dangers, sometimes associated with commercial air travel. I would have been okay if they would have claimed to be a hybrid between commercial and private; highlighting the more boutique service they provide, hangar departures, and prices comparable to airlines (since the service is comparable). I absolutely cannot accept that they compare themselves to private jet service. They are playing on the desires of people trying to keep up with the Jones’ all while misrepresenting the service they actually provide. Air Canada and SkyWest (Delta’s regional connection partner) operate Embraer 170/175. I believe United Express still contracts with a few regional airlines who operate a few Embraer 135/145. At any cost, these Embraer regional jets simply do not compare with a true private jet but don’t take our word for it; let’s compare visually…

This first photo is passenger seating in a private jet vs. their shuttle wanna be private jet:

private jet shuttle service airplane interior

Inside a private jet shuttle service airplane

Here we have a tray table vs. a table that you can actually work and eat on:

private jet interior

the inside of a real private jet is much different than those pretenders operating shuttle services on what they claim to be a private jet

Last but not least is their lounge versus the lounge inside an FBO like what you use when you REALLY fly private:

hangar versus FBO

the difference between boarding a private jet shuttle service and boarding from a private jet FBO is incredibly different

Obviously there is no comparison and it is completely absurd and disappointing that this man would attempt to devalue the true private jet experience just to sell the dream of flying private to unsuspecting travelers. This is simply false advertising and unethical to suggest it is better than flying private just because you, ultimately, get to take a regional jet that departs from a hangar at the same price you’d fly that same regional jet from a small airport. I hope those considering this option turn to Yelp! to read what other reviewers shared in regards to flights being four hours late or canceled entirely if they don’t sell enough seats. Do your homework and protect yourself from false/misleading nonsense.