DayJet Calls It a Day

 - September 29, 2008, 11:34 AM

Boca Raton, Fla.-based DayJet–the per-seat, on-demand charter operator of the Eclipse 500– ceased operations and let go most of its approximately 150 employees on September 19, almost exactly a year after it started very light jet air-taxi operations in Florida and then gradually expanded service to cover much of the Southeast. Company founder Ed Iacobucci immediately stepped down as president and CEO but continues to serve as DayJet’s chairman of the board of directors. John Staten, the company’s CFO and senior vice president of operations, was named interim CEO.

In a press release, DayJet said, “This shutdown is a direct consequence of the company’s inability to arrange critical financing in the midst of the current global financial crisis. The company’s operations have also suffered as a result of Eclipse Aviation’s failure to install missing equipment or functionality or repair agreed technical discrepancies in accordance with the terms of DayJet’s aircraft purchase contract.”

The company parked its entire Eclipse 500 charter fleet at Gainesville (Fla.) Airport, where 16 of its 28 Eclipse 500s were parked in early May following the revelation that DayJet was unable to secure another $40 million of operating capital to proceed with its aggressive expansion

DayJet Calls It a Day
plans. However, an FAA spokesman said DayJet does plan to operate one of the Eclipse 500s for “executive transport.” DayJet did not respond to AIN’s repeated inquiries.

Meanwhile, Eclipse Aviation downplayed the effect of the troubles at DayJet on the Albuquerque, N.M. manufacturer. “While DayJet was Eclipse’s largest customer, Eclipse’s business model and success has never relied solely on DayJet. Eclipse still has hundreds of orders to fill independent of DayJet,” said Eclipse.

But the aircraft manufacturer’s statement glossed over the fact that DayJet accounted for 1,429 of Eclipse’s once-claimed backlog for 2,700 EA-500s. Eclipse told AIN on September 23 that it had removed those orders from its order book, leaving the aircraft OEM with orders for “fewer than 1,000” copies of the VLJ. How this bodes for Eclipse, which itself is seeking about $200 million in funding to continue as a going concern, was unknown at press time.

DayJet had not filed for bankruptcy protection as of September 23, and in the issued press release it said that interim CEO Staten will be “managing the affairs of the company during the next phase of operations,” without specifying what this next phase would be.