It appears it is not only the Peninsula residents who live under the flight path of Surf Air, the small commuter airline that uses the San Carlos Airport as one of its destinations, who are angry with the airline.
One of Surf Air's co-founders, David Eyerly, has sued the company and its backers for at least $125 million, saying they forced him out and took the equity he had been promised.
In the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Nov. 12, Mr. Eyerly says he came up with the idea for Surf Air, which flies in and out of small California airports offering unlimited flights for a monthly fee. He founded the company in November 2011 with his brother, Wade Eyerly, but after the two brought in financial partners he was forced out, he says.
In addition to Surf Air, the lawsuit names financial backers Anthem Venture Partners and William Woodward; Velos Partners and Raj Ganguly; and Base Ventures and Erik Moore.
The lawsuit says Surf Air is "a successful, rapidly growing airline" and currently valued at more than $1 billion. "It is projected to grow seven-fold and in the next five years will be worth multiple billions of dollars," it says.
That growth has worried local residents, who have been protesting the noise made by Surf Air's Pilatus PC-12 single-engine turboprop planes since soon after the airline began flying into San Carlos. As the airline has grown, the number of flights in and out of San Carlos has steadily increased, as have complaints.
According to Charles Sipkins, speaking for Surf Air, the company "will always defend itself against meritless litigation and is confident this case will ultimately be dismissed." Mr. Sipkins, former chief communications officer for Sony Pictures, has a public relations firm that handles corporate communications and crisis management.
The lawsuit says that David Eyerly came up with the concept for the airline, which started flying in and out of San Carlos in June 2013, while he was a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. In addition to having passengers pay a monthly subscription fee, he wanted to use small airports that do not require TSA screening.
The lawsuit says that David Eyerly spent two years getting FAA approval for the concept. "The FAA told Dave it had never seen" the regulations Surf Air operates under "used in the way he was proposing," the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit claims that David Eyerly was forced out by board members representing the company's financial backers, first from his position as Surf Air's chief operating officer, and then as a board member. He left, it says, after being promised he would retain a 12.5 percent stake in the company, but later found he had only a .75 percent stake.
Later his brother, Wade Eyerly, and other early employees were also forced out, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit asks for damages "believed to be in excess of $125 million" plus punitive damages.