Flashback: DayJet finally takes off

 - October 5, 2022, 8:45 AM
AIN November 2007 p.16

With AIN Media Group's Aviation International News and its predecessor Aviation Convention News celebrating the company's 50th year of continuous publication this year, AIN’s editorial staff is going back through the archives each month to bring readers some interesting events that were covered over the past half-century.

REWIND: On October 3, per-seat, on-demand air-taxi firm DayJet marked its official grand opening in a ceremony at the Tallahassee (Florida) Regional Airport. DayJet flew “several dozen” revenue trips for a limited customer base in the two weeks before the official launch to ensure a smoother rollout. DayJet has 1,500 business travel members who can book point-to-point flights among the initial five Florida DayPorts-Boca Raton, Gainesville, Lakeland, Pensacola, and Tallahassee-­aboard DayJet’s Eclipse 500s.

FASTFORWARD: Conceived amid the heady optimism surrounding the introduction of aircraft such as the Eclipse 500 and the Citation Mustang, which evoked images of skies darkened with clouds of very light jets, DayJet survived less than a year before a lack of funding forced it to shut down and ground its fleet of 28 Eclipse 500s. The company had expanded from Florida to destinations throughout the southeast, but troubles surfaced when it was unable to secure another $40 million of operating capital, forcing it to ground some aircraft and begin to lay off staff. These problems exacerbated struggles Dayjet faced with trying to keep the nascent jets airworthy in a high-utilization environment. Last-ditch efforts to save the company failed, forcing it to declare bankruptcy in November 2008.

DayJet’s collapse also had serious ramifications for Eclipse Aviation as the now-­defunct operator accounted for 1,429 of the airframer’s once-claimed backlog for 2,700 EA-500s. Soon after the announcement, Eclipse told AIN that it had removed those orders from its order book, leaving the OEM with orders for “fewer than 1,000” copies of the VLJ. Having spent more than $1 billion to develop and certify the EA-500, it declared bankruptcy itself in 2009, several months after DayJet, amidst an economic landscape cratered by the global financial meltdown.