Surf Air acquires online aviation marketplace Blackbird


Surf Air Pilatus PC-12

Los Angeles, Calif. – Surf Air has announced the acquisition of online aviation marketplace BlackBird. With this acquisition the company has created Surf Air Mobility Corporation, whose mission is to transform the 50-400 mile mobility market. Surf Air Mobility Corp aims to 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 underutilised 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.”

Says Surf Air advisor Jonathan Mildenhall, CEO of TwentyFirstCenturyBrand and former CMO of Airbnb, “​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 democratising the skies.”

In focusing on a network of short-haul flights, the company is best positioned to be a firs tmover toward electrification and the associated cost savings. Unlike eVTOL that requires building new infrastructure and new aircraft, Surf Air Mobility Corp is able to scale the business rapidly by capitalising 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. Fifty percent 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 inprivate aviation.”

As part of the deal, Davis has been named Surf Air Mobility Corp’s new COO. With traveller safety being the company’s number one priority, Surf Air Mobility Corp also recently added Peter Evans, former head of operations for Virgin Atlantic Airways, as head of operations. Surf Air’s operations will continue to exceed all safety requirements of the F.A.A., and continue the strict vetting and safety policies of all Part 135 operators on the network.”