LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Surf Air Mobility Inc. (NYSE: SRFM) (“Surf Air Mobility”), an air mobility platform transforming regional flying through electrification, and Purdue University (“Purdue”) have agreed to begin scheduled commuter air service between West Lafayette / Purdue University Airport (LAF) and Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD) with a target start date in early second quarter 2024. Purdue University will provide funds to support the establishment and ongoing operations of the air service. The flight operations will be run by Southern Airways Express (“Southern”), an airline subsidiary of Surf Air Mobility.
The goal of this program is to provide Purdue University’s students, faculty, staff, and families, as well as residents and businesses of West Lafayette, with easier, faster connections to the world via the fourth busiest airport in America (ORD) with the underutilized regional airport immediately adjacent to Purdue’s campus (LAF). With air service directly into LAF, travelers arriving via O’Hare will be able to skip the multi-hour drive and fly directly to West Lafayette on one of up to four daily flights.
Surf Air Mobility has existing federal contracts through the Essential Air Service (“EAS”) program, operating subsidized routes connecting communities that otherwise lack access to minimal air service. The agreement with Purdue University replicates the EAS model with a private institution, without the need for federal funding.
“We’re excited to take the basic principle of the EAS program and build on its success with Purdue University,” said Stan Little, CEO of Surf Air Mobility. “We hope this will be a model we can replicate with other non-urban universities and private companies in the future. As the growth in Regional Air Mobility continues, partners like Purdue University will be integral to accelerating a new kind of mass transportation solution that uses smaller aircraft connecting smaller regional airports to the nation’s air infrastructure.”
With 24 weekly round trip flights currently planned, the agreement will bring scheduled air service back to this route for the first time in nearly 20 years. Through Southern’s interline and distribution agreements with United, American, and Alaska, West Lafayette passengers will be able to have a seamless connection experience at the hub, including through-bag transfer, and they will also be able to purchase tickets on United.com, AA.com, and AlaskaAir.com.
Southern will operate these flights using Cessna Grand Caravan turboprop aircraft, with nine passenger seats and two pilots. The flights will be open to the general public, and Purdue will provide the use of its refurbished passenger terminal, hangar space, and ramp access for Southern’s personnel. Southern will also offer job opportunities pre- and post-graduation for qualified students. Purdue will have the opportunity to recoup some, or all, of its investment should passenger counts exceed projected levels.
“Today’s announcement is a win for all Lafayette and West Lafayette area residents,” said Rob Wynkoop, Purdue vice president for administrative operations. “No longer will we have to deal with the uncertainty of the long drive to take advantage of all the flights and destinations that O’Hare has to offer. Passengers will save money and time while being able to support their local airport. With new airline service from Southern and the new passenger terminal coming next year, it is an exciting time for the Purdue University Airport.”
Surf Air Mobility is also the largest commuter airline in the U.S. by scheduled departures.
About Surf Air Mobility
Surf Air Mobility is a Los Angeles-based regional air mobility platform expanding the category of regional air travel to reinvent flying through the power of electrification. In an effort to substantially reduce the cost and environmental impact of flying and as the operator of the largest commuter airline in the US, Surf Air Mobility intends to develop powertrain technology with its commercial partners to electrify existing fleets and bring electrified aircraft to market at scale. The management team has deep experience and expertise across aviation, electrification, and consumer technology.
About Purdue University
Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last five years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://stories.purdue.edu.
Surf Air Mobility: [email protected]