Not about NC/Indiana: significant air-taxi update

The excellent industry newsletter AVweb has just reported that DayJet, subject of this story in the current Atlantic, is scaling back expansion plans and laying off (an undisclosed number of) employees. Here is the story from AVweb:

Start-up air taxi operator Dayjet has announced it will "scale back" its immediate growth plans and lay off employees in all areas of its operations. In an email release today, company founder and CEO Ed Iacobucci did not detail the numbers of people let go. Iacobucci blamed weak capital markets and not the company's early performance for the decision. He said expanding the company to the point of profitability would require a $40 million capital infusion and he apparently couldn't find that money. "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," he said.

Iacobucci said the "proof-of-concept phase" the company is now in has proved the market is there for the small-jet people mover system he envisioned but it has to grow from its current fleet of 28 aircraft serving 11 "Dayports" to as many as 50 aircraft branching out from up to 30 hubs to be profitable and that's why it needed the $40 million. While DayJet seems confident that it will eventually find the money and markets it needs, the larger question might be what the delay in doing so will do to Eclipse Aviation. DayJet is reported to be Eclipse's largest customer with orders for 1,400 of the estimated 2,500 aircraft on Eclipse's order book. Calls requesting comment from Eclipse were not immediately returned.

When I was at the DayJet headquarters three and a half months ago, the company was hiring like crazy and talking about its month-by-month expansion plans in cities served, passengers carried, and aircraft in the fleet. At the time it had five (I think) "DayPort" centers -- bases from which flights go to a variety of smaller cities. Apparently it has now grown to 11 DayPort centers serving 60-plus cities. The plan that was laid out to me was to get to 30 DayPorts serving 100-plus cities by the end of the year.

Whether this is a "growth slowdown" or an actual cutback, and what it portends, I obviously don't know. For now just passing on the news.