New Florida Carrier DayJet Focuses on Smaller Markets

Delray Beach-based DayJet plans initially to serve five airports in Florida, including Boca Raton, when it begins on-demand regional service around November, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday.

And while it's not off the ground yet, privately held DayJet already wants to expand to four more cities in Florida and other Southeastern states, said Vicky Harris, the director of marketing and communications.

Created by Citrix Systems founder Ed Iacobucci, DayJet has ordered 239 mini-jets from Eclipse Aviation of Albuquerque, N.M., at $1.3 million each. The fledgling air carrier has options for 70 more.

An Eclipse spokesman said Wednesday the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to certify the jets in the next few weeks.

The five-seat aircraft, which will have two pilots, are designed for short hauls ranging from 15 minutes to an hour. Initially, they will serve "DayPort" facilities at Boca Raton Airport, as well as airports in Gainesville, Lakeland, Pensacola and Tallahassee, Harris said.

Those cities were chosen, company officials said, because each represents "a strong and growing local economy and a business environment that is underserved by the airline 'hub and spoke' system." In other words, they have little scheduled air service, if any.

"Limited transportation is the most common growth impediment to smaller, economically diverse and socially vibrant communities," Iacobucci said in a news release. Business leaders in the communities selected for DayJet service, he said, "are ready to embrace new transportation models to increase their productivity and competitiveness in regional business scenarios."

The company is counting on business travelers' current frustration in moving around the state, saying its research shows that between 2000 and 2006, the number of scheduled flights between all Florida markets decreased by 47 percent and available seat capacity declined by 31 percent.

DayJet flights are expected to cost between $1 and $4 a mile, a premium of 25 percent to 75 percent above current commercial airline prices, the company has said.

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