Surf Air announces acquisition of aviation marketplace Blackbird


Surf Air, a leader in shared private aviation, has announced the acquisition of fast-growing online aviation marketplace BlackBird.

With this acquisition the company has created Surf Air Mobility Corporation, with the aim to transform the 50-400 mile mobility market and make flying a viable alternative to commercial airlines and driving on short routes.

“We’re in the first phase of a massive industry shift where more flyers are choosing to access the time-savings and optimal experience that only general aviation can provide,” said Surf Air CEO Sudhin Shahani. “Nowhere is this more evident than in BlackBird’s 500% year-over-year growth in 2019. Similar to the way that three-sided marketplaces have transformed the home and ride-sharing economies, Blackbird has unlocked the potential of general aviation with a simple consumer experience and by tapping into an existing underutilized asset base to create affordable on-demand flying. Combining this with our scheduled membership platform will bring increased value and options to both of our customer bases and current and future operating partners.”

Surf Air advisor Jonathan Mildenhall, CEO of TwentyFirstCenturyBrand and former CMO of Airbnb said, “​I am truly excited about how this acquisition will transform the trajectory of the Surf Air platform. This takes the benefits of private air travel to more people and to more destinations, which is great for both passengers and for the local economies that they fly into. Surf Air is truly committed to democratizing the skies.”

In focusing on a network of short-haul flights, the company is best positioned to be a first mover toward electrification and the associated cost savings. Unlike eVTOL that requires building new infrastructure and new aircraft, Surf Air Mobility is able to scale the business rapidly by capitalizing on existing and under-used airports and airplanes today. “There is a staggering amount of excess capacity in general aviation because historically the space has been fractured and inaccessible,” said BlackBird founder and CEO Rudd Davis. “We founded BlackBird to change that, using technology to bring transparency and simplicity to customers while bringing more demand and utilization to operators. 50% of all flights in the world are under 500 miles, which is a massive opportunity for us today. That opportunity will only grow as electric fixed wing aircraft come to market over the next 24 months, making flying cheaper than driving.”

“I congratulate the management teams of Surf Air and Blackbird on this industry-transforming merger,” said ​Dennis Phelps, general partner at Institutional Venture Partners, one of Surf Air’s largest investors. “The two companies share a similar vision for making the convenience and comfort of short-haul private aviation more accessible and affordable to small businesses and families throughout North America and beyond. The combination of Surf Air’s loyal subscriber base and reliable flight schedule, together with Blackbird’s network of on-demand charter partners, has the potential to make the combined service offering a powerful new force in private aviation.”

As part of the deal, Davis has been named Surf Air Mobility’s new COO. With traveler safety being the company’s number one priority, Surf Air Mobility also recently added Peter Evans, former head of operations for Virgin Atlantic Airways, as head of operations.

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Paige is an experienced journalist and editor who started her career covering the building and architecture sector. After several years writing and editing online and print articles for leading journals in this sector, she is bringing her thorough approach to technical content to covering aerospace engineering. In her spare time she enjoys traveling and is always planning her next trip

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