Surf Air has acquired Dallas-based Rise, the California-based company’s second-largest competitor in the “all you can fly” membership air travel category, the companies announced yesterday afternoon. The move will establish Surf Air in both California and Texas, bringing the total number of weekly flights to 445 across 17 destinations.
As part of the agreement, Surf Air plans to quickly expand to additional markets within the next 18 months, including Las Vegas; Bentonville, Arkansas; Midland, Texas; New Orleans; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Taos, New Mexico. It will also offer weekend service for “certain membership levels” to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Aspen, Colorado; and Sun Valley, Idaho. The membership airline will also start Monday through Friday service between Texas and California later this year.
Under the transition to the Surf Air brand, Rise—which flies routes between Dallas, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio—will phase out its current fleet of Beechcraft King Air 350s and replace it with Pilatus PC-12s, Surf Air’s choice of aircraft for U.S. operations (it will fly Phenom 300s in Europe). According to a Surf Air spokeswoman, the combined U.S. fleet will number 12 airplanes.
Surf Air’s corporate and operational headquarters will remain in Santa Monica, but it will have a “significant presence” in Dallas with Rise founder and CEO Nick Kennedy taking the role as president of the Texas and Southeast region for Surf Air, reporting to Surf Air chairman and CEO Sudhin Shahani. All Rise employees will also be retained, the companies said.
Since Surf Air and Rise were launched in 2013 and 2014, respectively, they have flown a combined 69,383 flights and 203,908 passengers. “By integrating the platforms and creating seamless connections between the networks, existing members of both providers will see immediate benefits, with expanded access to the existing all-you-can-fly monthly membership model,” Surf Air said.
“For nearly five years we have been drastically and fundamentally changing the way frequent business travelers in California fly,” said Shahani. “Our current routes from the Los Angeles to San Francisco areas already corner one of the largest short-haul markets in the country. Now, with our acquisition of Rise, we’re taking a significant step into expanding this footprint across the Southeastern U.S. through the substantial operation already established by Rise in Texas.”