Saturday, April 18, 2009

Crandall's Pogo Air-Taxi Company Folds

Robert L. Crandall has shut down Pogo, his ambitious start-up venture in the air-taxi business,according to Aviation Week magazine. (Here's the link to the story).

The plan for Pogo to launch in the first quarter of this year was obviously in big trouble when the company canceled an initial public offering in February. As envisioned by Crandall and his investors, Pogo would have started service using Eclipse 500 very-light jets on regional routes within 600 miles of New York City.

Pogo follows DayJet, another air-taxi business based on a fleet of Eclipse 500s, into oblivion after the Eclipse jet failed to live up to expectations at the same time that credit markets dried up. DayJet, which had taken delivery of 28 Eclipse 500s and was already operating in Florida and adjacent states, shut down last September after it had been unable to obtain new financing.

Crandall, who built the modern American Airlines in the years after de-regulation and led the carrier from 1980 to 1998, told Aviation Week that Pogo was "just one of those ideas that didn't work out." He blamed the sub-par performance of the plane, as well as the credit crunch, for the failure of Pogo. "The airplane failed," he told Aviation Week.

Pogo had planned to have 25 Eclipse 500s flying by the end of this year, but the manufacturer, Eclipse Aviation, halted production of the small jets last year and was liquidated in February after producing about 260 planes.

Pogo had orders to buy its Eclipse 500s for about $1.9 million each. The company planned to be flying about 100 very light jets, not necessarily all Eclipses, by the end of 2011.


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