Local officials and residents who have been working with Surf Air over concerns about the noise its planes make over the Midpeninsula said they had no warning that the airline was about to significantly increase the amount of flights at the San Carlos Airport.
On Monday, April 13, Surf Air announced that it will add 31 weekly flights at the airport.
Five inbound flights will be added each weekday, and three each on Saturday and Sunday, spokeswoman Courtney Lis confirmed, for a total of 19 inbound flights each weekday and eight on each weekend day. An equal number of outbound flights depart from the airport. The airline's schedule can be found here.
Surf Air offers members unlimited flights for a monthly fee. With the expansion, it will now fly to Santa Rosa, Monterey, Sacramento and Palm Springs in addition to the previous destinations of Oakland, San Carlos, Truckee, Hawthorne, Santa Barbara, Burbank and Las Vegas.
Surf Air began flying in and out of San Carlos in June 2013, and residents began complaining about the noise soon after. Atherton has hosted two well-attended public meetings already with airline and airport officials, one in December 2013 and another in October 2014.
Mike Lempres, one of two Atherton council members who is part of a working group that meets regularly with Surf Air, said he had no idea about the added flights until he was forwarded the press release. Other Atherton officials said they also had not been told in advance.
"We wish we had received a little more information in advance," Lempres said. "We are continuing to try to work with Surf Air."
Of the expanded number of flights, Lempres said, "That's a real issue for lots of our residents. It's going to increase the noise and everything else they're experiencing."
He said working group members had also been told by Surf Air that because the airline caters to business commuters, most flights occurred at the beginning and end of the day.
However, the press release says the airlines is hoping to also cater to those flying for recreation. The announcement quotes Sudhin Shahani, executive chairman of Surf Air, as saying, "We've had proven success with business travelers in our existing network. What makes these new routes so ideal is their equal appeal to leisure travelers."
Elizabeth Lewis, the other Atherton council member on the working group, said the next meeting is at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, in the Atherton council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road. The working group includes neighbors, San Carlos Airport officials, county supervisors, a regional liaison for airport noise, and Surf Air, she said.
Lempres said he thinks the meeting could be lively. "I suspect this will get heated," he said, adding that members of the working group may be less upset about the expansion than about the "fact that we have been meeting and talking and this wasn't brought up."