DayJet keeps busy flying execs

Think of DayJet as a hybrid: a tiny jet with the go-anytime convenience of a charter plane for a few hundred dollars more than a scheduled airline's full-fare coach.

The Boca Raton-based carrier is now offering flights from St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport to more than 60 cities in the Southeast United States.

"DayJet cares about one schedule — your schedule," chief financial officer John Staten said to a small group of airport and Pinellas County officials Wednesday.

Launched in October, the company focuses on mid-level business executives traveling to small cities that airlines serve infrequently. Many now drive, says Staten, and DayJet lets them make the trip there and back the same day. "We provide that work-life balance, enhanced productivity and responsiveness," he says.

It's a low-volume business. DayJet flies the Eclipse 500, a "very-light jet" with five seats (two pilots and three passengers) and the interior space of a minivan. The carrier flew 700 flights in June, or about 33 per day. The average flight is an hour with a fare of $600.

DayJet hit a bump in May, laying off about one-third of its 260 employees after failing to secure $40-million to expand its jet fleet.

The airline is adding "DayPort," locations where travelers can fly anywhere in DayJet's network of cities in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and the Carolinas. St. Petersburg-Clearwater International and Orlando Executive Airport were added to the list Wednesday.

Unlike charter operators that charge thousands of dollars for a flight, DayJet sells individual seats on its jets. Fares for the same flight vary widely, based on how flexible you can be with your departure time.

If you agreed to leave St. Petersburg-Clearwater on a flight to Tallahassee within a six-hour window, the fare on Wednesday was $397 one-way. If you insisted on a two-hour time period, the price shot up to $859.

Steve Huettel can be reached at huettel@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3384.

DayJet keeps busy flying execs 07/09/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 10, 2008 9:17pm]

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