SURF Air seemed so promising a year ago. But alas, now that the teensy airline is ready to take off, perhaps as soon as Wednesday, its viability suddenly seems iffy.
You may recall last year that Surf Air caught the attention of L.A.’s tech community in particular because of its potential to provide air service between Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach. Tech execs imagined motoring the short distance from the Third Street Promenade to the Santa Monica Airport, handing their keys to a valet, breezing through the general aviation airport with no humiliating TSA pat-down and quickly hopping on a small plane that would land in Silicon Valley.
They could fly up in the morning and back in the afternoon. And they may as well fly often, since Surf Air was to offer a Netflix-like, fly-all-you-want-for-$1,000-amonth subscription.
Little wonder that Surf Air reportedly got a standing ovation when it made its presentation to investors at the end of its class at the MuckerLab accelerator last year and quickly racked up $4 million in investments. “(Surf Air) could have easily raised three times that amount,” MuckerLab’s president told the Business Journal’s tech reporter, Tom Dotan, at the time.
But when Surf Air last week announced that it had gotten approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to take wing, the startup said it will indeed fly to Silicon Valley, but it will be doing so from the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. There was no explanation of why Santa Monica Airport was not the base. However, given all the protests aimed at the airport – and some local officials’ quest to close it – it’s clear that several more daily flights are not exactly high on Santa Monica’s wish list.
The question now: Will tech execs want to rush from the Third Street Promenade and drive the 45 minutes to Burbank? They may figure that LAX, which is more of a hassle but only about 20 minutes away, is more compelling.
Oh, and Surf Air’s subscription rate bumped up to $1,650, which is an easy-tocalculate 65 percent increase.
Maybe Surf Air will still find its audience. But it may not be the tech community that was so enthusiastic a year ago. • • •
What number is so shockingly puny you’d think we were talking about Matt Kemp’s home run total? It’s 31. That’s the number of producers who scored a California tax credit for film projects in the annual lottery last week. That’s 31 for the whole year.
That’s 31 of 380 who applied. That figures out to a little more than 8 percent.
Eight percent? In the past, we noted that only about 20 percent of those who applied actually got a tax credit, and we thought 20 percent was too low.
Several aspects of the film tax credit program need to be updated. For one, producers should be able to sell their tax credits to a third party. (Now, only small-budget, independent films have salable credits.) That would lure more outside producers to California, among other benefits.
But the main need is to expand the credit program, which is capped at $100 million. It should be quadrupled or quintupled, but even doubling it would be a help.
Remember, this program is not a drain on the state’s treasury. That’s because credits basically are taxes that are not paid in the future for economic activity that will occur soon. And that economic activity creates other taxes that are paid.
The worst part: Producers who don’t get the credits – as in the 92 percent who lost out in the lottery last week – are likely to go to othe