Now that air travel is back to pre-pandemic levels, passengers are experiencing a slew of problems – from flight delays and cancellations to lost baggage and jam-packed airplanes.
A freshly inked report from the US Public Interest Research Group titled "Plane Truth," points to several factors contributing to these problems. Airlines have come under scrutiny for their practice of over-scheduling flights, which can lead to overcrowded cabins and disrupted schedules.
According to the report, there were approximately 400,000 fewer flights in the first half of the year compared to 2019, resulting in fuller flights this year. As summer travel picked up from May to June, airline performance deteriorated.
In fact, complaints have swelled to such an extent that the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has hit the brakes on their usual transparency, keeping recent complaint data under wraps since February.
One of the key findings of the report is that airlines often lack accountability when it comes to addressing passenger concerns, from flight cancellations and delays to slow refund processes and inadequate communication with passengers. Furthermore, the USDOT has been criticized for not promptly releasing updated data on customer complaints related to airlines.
Fortunately, leading US regional air mobility platform Surf Air Mobility Inc. (NYSE:SRFM) is tackling the issue of overcrowded airports head on, by completely avoiding them altogether.
Surf Air Mobility, the largest regional commuter airline in the US by scheduled departures, is expanding regional air travel by connecting underutilized regional airports across the US to create a superior flying experience by using small turboprop aircraft flying between more convenient airports.
Interestingly, about 90% of the US population resides or works within 30 minutes of a regional airport. Yet, a mere 30 airports in the nation account for approximately 70% of its air traffic.
Revolutionizing Regional Air Travel Through Electrification
Apart from creating an expanded network of regional flights across the US and beyond, Surf Air Mobility is leading the charge in revolutionizing regional air travel by harnessing the potential of electrification to significantly reduce the cost and environmental impact of flying.
To bring this vision to life, Surf Air is collaborating with commercial partners to develop electrified powertrain technology for retrofitting existing fleets with electric propulsion and introducing electric aircraft on a large scale to the market. The company's leadership team boasts extensive expertise in aviation, electrification, and consumer technology.
With its debut on the public market, Surf Air Mobility announced an exclusive partnership with Textron Aviation Inc., a subsidiary of Textron Inc (NYSE: TXT), which includes an order of 100 Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircrafts. Deliveries of the first 20 Cessna aircrafts are set to commence in the first half of 2024. Once the electrification technology is certified, these aircraft will be amongst the first to undergo conversion to incorporate Surf Air Mobility's proprietary electric or hybrid-electric powertrain technology.
Surf Air Mobility aims to make electrified aircraft accessible to new and existing operators with the goal of providing customers with the benefits of cost-effective, low-emission air travel on a large scale. Additionally, the company will serve as the exclusive provider of its proprietary battery electric and hybrid electric powertrain technology for the Cessna Grand Caravan to Textron Aviation.
Surf Air Mobility plans to deploy both electric and hybrid-electric Cessna Grand Caravan aircrafts across its network, facilitating direct short-haul flights to connect even more airports. By doing so, the company aims to create a new kind of regional mass transport solution that more sustainably connects communities throughout North America with greener, lower cost air travel.
The anticipated advantages of the new electrified architecture include a substantial reduction in direct operating costs, with targets ranging from 25% to 50%, and a significant decrease in direct carbon emissions, with targets ranging from 50% to 100%, all while maintaining performance levels similar to the current models. Importantly, these aircraft have the potential to be used at over 5,000 public-use airports across the United States, with no need for charging stations in the case of hybrid-electric powertrain versions.
Surf Air Mobility is also partnering with big data giant Palantir Technologies (NYSE: PLTR) to co-develop definitive AI software and operator tools for the growing regional air mobility (RAM) industry.
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