By Alton K. Marsh
DayJet has grounded all but 12 of its 28 Eclipse 500 jets used in its Florida-based air taxi service and has laid off 100 of its 260 employees after failing to find an additional $40 million in operating capital this year.
The company will defer deliveries of what a spokeswoman termed “dozens” of new Eclipse 500 jets planned for this year. However, DayJet official Vicky Harris said that will result in other Eclipse customers moving up in the line ahead of DayJet and getting their aircraft sooner than expected. No deliveries to DayJet are anticipated for the rest of the year.
DayJet will continue to expand from Florida markets into the South, but at a much slower rate than hoped. Destinations now include Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, and those will continue to be served. The company has 45 destinations in five states.
DayJet founder Ed Iacobucci was to be in Gainesville, Fla., on May 7 to explain the situation to employees. In addition to the Gainesville base, DayJet has a second base for aircraft and crews in Boca Raton, Fla., the company headquarters.
The aircraft not used on DayJet routes will instead be leased out in order to continue to receive income from the aircraft. The company had as a goal the employment of 1,000 personnel.
The company was ramping up quickly in anticipation of rapid growth. It has 1,500 potential customers who had taken Transportation Security Administration screening and were committed to using the service. Of those, 500 have taken a first flight. Of that number, 200 have made repeated flights, and 100 are referred to by the company as frequent fliers. Those totals are about 80 percent of the goals set in the company business plan.
So far the average fare paid per customer is $900 for one-way trips. Customers pay less if their travel has flexible hours, or more if departure and arrival times are inflexible.
“I won’t dwell on this point, but suffice it to say that given the current state of the U.S. capital markets, the timing of our planned financing could not have been worse,” Iacobucci said in a May 6 letter.
May 7, 2008