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Surf Air plans to offer commuter flights between Hawthorne and San Diego

Surf Air plans to offer commuter flights between Hawthorne and San Diego
A Surf Air plane waits for passengers at Hawthorne Municipal Airport in 2015. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

All-you-can-fly membership airline Surf Air plans to begin offering commuter service between Hawthorne Municipal Airport and San Diego's Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport.

Although the Santa Monica-based airline is confident the expanded service will begin sometime in this year's second quarter, it is not ready to commit to a definite start date.

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"As we move forward and see what demand looks like, we will confirm a date, but based on the research and interest we're getting, I don't see it not happening," said Barry Holmes, Surf Air's chief revenue officer.

The planned move to offer business travelers with as many as five daily flights to Hawthorne from San Diego — and as many as five in the opposite direction — was fueled by increasing inquiries from both existing and prospective members, Holmes said.

Surf Air currently operates one daily flight to Hawthorne out of Carlsbad in San Diego County. The airline’s network of destinations also includes Burbank, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, Napa, Monterey and Lake Tahoe.

For frequent fliers, the appeal of Surf Air is the all-you-can-fly model that requires a one-time payment of $1,000, plus a monthly membership fee of $1,950. Members can fly whenever and wherever the airline goes, and without the hassle of security lines.

Still, there are already plenty of commuter options out of San Diego International Airport, where American Airlines and Delta operate five nonstop flights a day to Los Angeles and United operates six.

Holmes said Surf Air will be able to reassign aircraft it already has to the San Diego-Hawthorne route.

The airline is currently offering what it's calling a pre-sale on its website, taking deposits to gauge interest for planned flights between Hawthorne and San Diego. A schedule hasn't been finalized, but the website shows five departures out of San Diego, beginning at 6 a.m. and ending at 8:40 p.m., and five out of Hawthorne, beginning at  7:05 a.m. and ending at 9:45 p.m.

"We haven't marketed additional frequencies between L.A. and Carlsbad, so we haven't been able to realize the demand that's there," Holmes said. "We quickly realized last year that the best strategic move was to open the L.A./San Diego route."

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