Florida Express Jet plans grounded

Tallahassee students may be out of luck for their interstate travel plans as the Florida Express Jet has canceled its plans for launch.

The airline reportedly halted its plans for its March 20 launch due to a lack of startup capital and its inability to secure a gate at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, where the airline planned to base its operations.

The startup company informed Chris Curry, Tallahassee Regional Airport director of aviation, via letter that it would not be moving forward with its scheduled launch date.

The company announced it would begin offering flight service from Fort Lauderdale with continuing service to Orlando and Tallahassee in January but has now stopped all operations indefinitely.

In addition to securing gate availability at Fort Lauderdale, Florida Express Jet had other dilemmas to fix before its original launch date. The company also hadn’t secured the contracts it would need to fly from Tallahassee.

“The company needed to raise a little over $5 million to launch,” Curry said. “I guess they came up short.”

Curry said the Tallahassee airport would like to continue its negotiations with the airline if its issues are resolved, “but right now they have emphasized to me that this is a halt of operation for them,” he said.

The airline was noted for its low fares starting at $69 for a coach seat and $99 for business class.

News of the airline’s halted operations has already upset some of Tallahassee’s student population, which would have been the airline’s target audience.

“I’m just really bummed out,” said Monique Falloon, a fashion-merchandising student at Florida State University from Fort Lauderdale. “I thought I was going to be able to travel home more often.”

The company was planning to get its aircrafts from Swift Air LLC, an aircraft-leasing agency in Arizona. Florida Express Jet was going to lease 150-seat Boeing 747 jets from Swift Air.

Steve Kasteler, a sales associate for Swift Air was contacted but refused to comment on Florida Express Jet.

It is unclear when or if Florida Express Jet will resume operation. For now, however, Florida Express Jet has refunded all tickets purchased in advanced and its website reads “coming soon.”