By Nathan A. Ferguson
Following years of talk about the air-taxi concept, DayJet in Florida is about to find out if passengers are willing to bypass the airlines or surrender the automobile.
On Oct. 3, the company began its per-seat, on-demand jet service using Eclipse 500 jets. Customers can initially fly between five "DayPort" locations - Boca Raton, Gainesville, Lakeland, Pensacola, and Tallahassee - and return home the same day. Over the next two years, DayJet plans to expand across the Southeast.
"We are embarking on a new era in regional transportation that, for the first time, brings the benefits of on-demand jet service to the average business traveler," said Ed Iacobucci, DayJet president and CEO.
But how much does it cost? That gets a little complicated. DayJet takes a similar approach to Priceline by allowing customers to tell the company how much they are willing to pay and where and when they want to travel. Unlike scheduled carriers, DayJet figures out each day how many airplanes and pilots to deploy based on customer requirements.
Price is ultimately determined by the flexibility of the passenger's travel window. Simply put, if time is money, then expect to pay more for a narrow window.
The first passenger was Howard Gruverman, CEO of Edify USA. "The service exceeded my expectations. The plane was roomy and comfortable, the pilots had impressive experience and the whole service model worked exactly as promised," he was quoted in a news release.
DayJet currently has a fleet of a dozen Eclipse jets while it has 1,000 jets on order from the same manufacturer. It hopes to have more than 300 jets operating within the next two years.
The secret behind DayJet is its proprietary computer system called ASTRO, which manages every aspect of the company's operations from flight records to billing and from maintenance to security clearances. ASTRO took five years to develop. DayJet says it's America's first all-digital commercial air carrier.
October 11, 2007