Surf Air, the controversial members-only commuter airline behind thousands of residents' noise complaints to the San Carlos Airport, will be back at the airport later this month, the company confirmed with The Almanac on Friday.
Gretchen Kelly, the manager of the San Mateo County-owned airport, confirmed in August that the airline had stopped using the San Carlos Airport, saying that the last record the airport had of a Surf Air plane landing there was June 29. She said at the time that workers affiliated with Surf Air indicated it may be back in October.
A company spokesperson confirmed via email Friday afternoon that Surf Air will resume service in San Carlos later this month. The spokesperson said an exact date for when flights will resume has not been determined, "but we're hoping to begin in the next couple of weeks," the spokesperson said.
"We’ve worked closely with the community since suspending service over the summer to identify ways to reduce our noise footprint, which we believe we’ve addressed by modifying our schedule and using a quieter type of aircraft," the Surf Air spokesperson said. "We’ll stay in close contact with our friends in San Carlos to quickly address any issue that may arise as we resume service.”
Menlo Park resident Joe Straton of CalmTheSkies, a group of concerned citizens from various cities under the Surf Air flight path, said to his knowledge, no one in the community had conversations with Surf Air as the spokesperson stated. Community members are not pleased with the return of Surf Air.
"The early morning and later evening flights are disruptive to many people throughout the flight path," said Straton, who is the administrator for CalmTheSkies' website. "The flights disturb sleep, work and leisure time." It sounds like a helicopter is right above your house for the duration of the plane passing over, Straton said.
The company's 90-day flight schedule, emailed to Surf Air website subscribers on Oct. 3, runs from October through January, Mondays through Fridays. Flights from San Carlos to Santa Barbara are listed in the schedule, along with flights from San Carlos to Hawthorne. The schedule did not list specific dates for flights.
Surf Air also has San Carlos back up as a destination on its website.
Kelly could not immediately be reached for comment.
Asked how many flights will be scheduled in and out of the airport, the Surf Air spokesperson said, "Once we resume flight operations we’ll start slowly as our planned service will not be as robust as previous."
"San Carlos is the most popular destination for members in our network today and I can confirm that the San Carlos Airport is aware of our return, and I've been told that we have indeed made the county aware," the spokesperson added.
A startup airline that began using the San Carlos Airport in June 2013, Surf Air offered unlimited flights for a monthly fee and scheduled as many as 45 flights a day in and out of the airport.
In mid-June, however, Surf Air replaced Encompass Aviation LLC with Advanced Aviation LLC as its flight operator. Days later Encompass sued Surf Air, claiming $3.1 million in unpaid bills. In addition, the federal government says Surf Air owes $2.33 million in taxes, and San Mateo County says Surf Air owes it $131,371 for 2017 taxes and may owe more for 2015 and 2016.
Surf Air has since filed a counterclaim to the Encompass lawsuit, asking that Encompass return the PC-12 turboprop planes it has subleased from Surf Air and claiming at least $10 million in damages. Surf Air has also requested a jury trial.
After the change in flight operators, the airport recorded only 51 arrivals or departures by Surf Air before the flights stopped altogether.
In August, Kelly said that no one from Surf Air officially notified the airport that the flights would be discontinued, but that the company's ground crew said flights would be discontinued through the end of September.
Surf Air raised an additional $9.1 million in funding in September, according to a regulatory filing. This brings the Santa Monica-based company's total funding to $92.9 million, according to business information website Crunchbase.
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