Surf Air

Surf Air, a Santa Monica-based membership airline, reported its first flight Wednesday. (Surf Air / June 19, 2013)

Bob Hope Airport has added another commuter airline to its roster, and this one is bringing a new business model — a monthly fee of more than $1,600 for passengers.

Surf Air began offering eight daily flights to San Carlos Airport in San Mateo on six-passenger, turbo-prop planes last Wednesday in order to address the demand from business professionals who need to fly from the Los Angeles area to the Silicon Valley area on a regular basis.

The Santa Monica-based airline is a new business venture and operates on private memberships, in which customers pay a $1,650 monthly fee, plus a one-time $500 membership charge, in exchange for unlimited flights, said company spokeswoman Katie Gerber.

SeaPort Airlines, which runs a commuter flight to El Centro, near the Mexican border, started service at Bob Hope Airport in April.

Surf Air is pursuing a different clientele, focusing almost entirely on business travelers, so far, Gerber said.

"We're finding that's really our core demographic — well over half of our members are CEOs and entrepreneurs," she said.

Surf Air has three Pilatus PC-12 planes in its fleet, but is looking to expand because around 4,500 people have applied for memberships, according to Gerber.

Only 150 customers have been given memberships, so far, in order to make sure flights are not overbooked, she added.

Surf Air selected Bob Hope Airport for its inaugural flights because the local city, fire and police officials were so accommodating in authorizing the unusual arrangement, Gerber said.

"Burbank has been extremely welcoming and … made it easy for us to fly in and out of the community," she said.

Surf Air will add service to Santa Barbara from Burbank and San Mateo on July 15.

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