European members-only airline Surf Air is relocating its UK hub to London City airport in December, as it prepares to introduce the Pilatus PC-12NG single-engined turboprop to its expanding route network from early next year.
Simon Talling-Smith, chief executive of the all-you-can-fly, subscription-based service, says it is "essential" that the operator moves to the downtown airport from its current base at London Luton, around 50 miles (80km) away.
It follows feedback from a large number of Surf Air's 200-plus members that are based in, or that regularly travel to, the UK capital. "It's what our members asked for," he says, "and it reflects the demand for a more efficient approach to business travel."
Surf Air currently operates a once-daily return service from London to Zurich using an Embraer Phenom 300 light business jet, linking the private aircraft terminals at each airport.
Routes from Zurich to Luxembourg and Munich will be added in February and March, respectively, flown by the company's first two PC-12NGs. "This is an ideal aircraft for short journeys of less than two hours," says Talling-Smith; longer routes will be served by the Phenom 300.
Surf Air plans to add routes from London to Barcelona, Berlin and Geneva to its network by the end of 2018, and will expand the fleet to support the growing demand.
The PC-12NGs are supplied from a 2014 order for 65 aircraft, placed by its US sister company. The twin operations are also in talks with Embraer and Textron Aviation with a view to buying a number of new business jets. "We are looking to secure a volume deal for the wider Surf Air fleet," adds Talling-Smith, but remains tight-lipped on a timeframe for any order.