Revolution is tough without that disruptive nugget. Not having that nugget has led Surfair to retreat into the conventional operation of what could have been a novel membership based system. I’ve followed them since their birth since I’m no stranger to the concept of moving Pilatus PC-12s around with people in them whilst attempting to make money. What was great about Surfair, is that they validated our own Grabajet aspirations that I had designed with my business partner.
In fact, he had gone so far as to build an aviation business simulator – or money burner, as you might call it. Scott’s L.E.G.S.’s application was designed to tackle the primary problem on demand aviation faces: Without a modeling application (that can estimate how much cash you’ll burn per day) the industry appears completely chaotic and random. But to uber geeks, chaos and randomness only make the challenge more engaging. In fact, with a great tool, you can make sense and money of the data, both predicted and ultimately fine tuning with real time data. Once movements, loads, demand and passenger behavior can be back fed into your tool, to refine the original assumptions based on actual data, your predictive tool simply gets better.
My sense is that this has not been happening at Surfair – especially when it evolved into simply being schedule based with hard times – the death knell of a collaborative ride share program, which is the holy grail of on demand aviation.
When you see news about airline execs jumping on board, and you realize that at the end of the day it is a scheduled operation, it is certainly a cause for concern and likely a reason why subsequent fund raising has been difficult. Either you defy convention and reinvent the model (especially how people show up to the FBO and when they can hitch a ride.) Either that, or accept the fact that you are just building a smaller less efficient version of Southwest.