Disruption in the Air: Surf Air’s All-You-Can Fly Business Model

Publication Type


Year Completed



This case is set in July 2013, shortly after the launch of Surf Air, an all-you-can-fly subscription airline based in California. Wade Eyerly, the CEO of Surf Air, has to decide if the business model is sustainable, and also if Surf Air could be expanded to other locations.

Three directional trends are predominant in the domestic airline industry in the US – consolidation of airlines, operational discipline and cost-cutting, and increase in unbundling of services and ancillary revenue streams. Customers are struggling as shrinking hubs or cancelled point-to-point routes result in more flight connections, and higher costs to reach their destinations. Surf Air is introduced in the California region to address the above issues, by providing frequent business travellers an affordable option through a monthly subscription. The airline starts with with six-seater Pilatus PC-12 jets serving two secondary airports in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area; and this is shortly followed by another service to Santa Barbara.

Eyerly notes that the months leading up to the launch of Surf Air have brought about high expectations from his investors and the media. Would the all-you-can-fly model of Surf Air prove to be sustainable? Where could Surf Air expand to next?


Airlines, Surf Air, innovation, business models, value proposition, customer lifetime value


Marketing | Operations and Supply Chain Management | Strategic Management Policy | Transportation

Research Areas

Operations Management; Marketing

Data Source

Published Sources



Geographic Coverage

United States

Temporal Coverage


Education Level

Executive Education; Postgraduate; Undergraduate


Singapore Management University

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