Behold the future JSX Aura Aero Era 19-seat hybrid-electric aircraft. Rendering courtesy of JSX

Hop-on jet service JSX is soaring into a more eco-friendly future with plans to acquire more than 300 hybrid-electric airplanes.

The Dallas-based air carrier revealed in a release that they'll add up to 332 small hybrid planes in 2028, allowing them to connect to smaller, underserved communities around the country.

"Following the Biden Administration’s call last week for the aviation industry to cut carbon emissions ... JSX expects to take delivery of its first hybrid-electric aircraft in 2028, shepherding the next chapter of regional aviation as the first in its category to adopt this impactful cutting-edge renewable energy technology," JSX says in the release. "While commercial airlines can serve just 480 airports in the United States, JSX’s small community-friendly Part 135 and Part 380 Public Charter operations, combined with the exceptional performance capabilities of these hybrid-electric airplanes, enables service opportunities to thousands of federally funded airports otherwise inaccessible to people who can’t own or charter an entire aircraft."

The new cutting-edge airplanes will come from manufacturers Electra, Aura Aero, and Heart Aerospace and will include:

  • up to 82 Electra eSTOL 9-seat aircraft (32 firm orders and 50 options)
  • up to 150 Aura Aero Era 19-seat planes (50 firm orders and 100 options)
  • up to 100 Heart Aerospace ES-30 30-seat planes (50 firm orders and 50 options)

JSX currently operates about 50 semi-private planes configured with 30 seats, from private terminals in major cities including Dallas (Love Field) and Houston (Hobby Airport), and in "leisure" markets such as Destin, Florida and the Bahamas. The company recently shifted part of its operational focus to small markets (such as Midland-Odessa).

JSX promises a "no crowds, no lines, and no fuss" travel experience, allowing customers to check in and "hop on" just 20 minutes before departure. The carrier recently came under fire from federal regulators and major commercial airlines for its looser security regulations that more closely resemble those of charter providers than those of domestic airlines.

JSX is now doubling down on its pledge to service underserved cities, declaring in the release, "JSX has mastered the trifecta of marketing, selling, and operating attainable by-the-seat public charter air service to numerous small communities that have no other regular air service."

The future Heart Aerospace ES-30 30-seat hybrid-electric aircraft in JSX livery. Rendering courtesy of JSX

The new smaller, electric-hybrid aircraft will allow JSX to "dramatically lower the cost of its service and open new flight options at over 2,000 U.S. airports," they say, "stimulating local economies and empowering regional mobility and connectivity for communities devoid of regular air service today."

They point specifically to Del Rio, Texas, which has lost all commercial air service since the pandemic, they say, as an example of a small city that now can be reconnected to major cities in a cost-effective, sustainable way.

"The favorable operating economics of the Aura Aero Era, Heart ES-30, and Electra eSTOL can create thousands of new and expanded air travel options across the United States without the need for government subsidy," the company says.

In a statement, JSX CEO and cofounder Alex Wilcox adds, "As the network airlines order ever-larger aircraft it is inevitable that more and more small markets will be abandoned. Electra, Aura Aero, and Heart Aerospace are visionary organizations that share in JSX’s commitment to serving smaller communities, working together with us to weave sustainable regional air travel back into the fabric of American commerce and freedom of movement.”

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

It's wheels up to Midland-Odessa in January. Photo courtesy of JSX

Airline fuels up for new flights from Houston to oil-and-gas country

Hop-on jet service JSX is adding a new, year-round destination for the millions of Texans who work in oil and gas: Midland-Odessa.

Starting January 15, 2024, JSX will fly nonstop from Houston and Dallas to Odessa Airport-Schlemeyer Field (ODT). According to a release, the schedule and fares will be:

From Houston (HOU) to Odessa (ODT)

  • Regular flight service between Houston Hobby (HOU) and Odessa Airport-Schlemeyer Field (ODT), Monday through Thursday, two flights per day.
  • Introductory fares start at $309 (one-way) and include at least two checked bags (with weight/size restrictions), onboard cocktails and snacks, and free Starlink Wi-Fi.

FromDallas (DAL)toOdessa (ODT):

  • Regular flight service between Dallas Love Field (DAL) and Odessa Airport-Schlemeyer Field (ODT), Monday through Thursday, two flights per day.
  • Introductory fares start at $279 (one-way) and include at least two checked bags (with weight/size restrictions), onboard cocktails and snacks, and free Starlink Wi-Fi.

As with all JSX domestic flights, customers may check in just 20 minutes before departure (hence, the "hop-on" idea) and fly out of crowd-free private terminals. In Houston, that terminal is at Houston Hobby airport (8919 Paul B Koonce St.) and in Dallas, at Dallas Love Field (8555 Lemmon Ave.).

“JSX is proud to support Texas' energy economy by introducing our unique 'hop-on' jet service with daily flights connecting business commuters from Dallas and Houston to Odessa at the start of 2024,” says JSX CEO Alex Wilcox in the release. “Not only is Odessa central to the Permian Basin, but it's also home to companies powering some of the nation's largest wind and solar farms. We take pride in supporting those who supply the energy we all depend on every single day.”

JSX continues to tout its "no crowds, no lines, and no fuss" travel experience that made them especially popular during the pandemic.

Passengers have access to valet parking, touchless check-in, Wi-Fi lounges, and speedy baggage retrieval. The 30-seat planes are now beaming up to SpaceX's Starlink Wifi, and there's a pet-friendly policy that allows small dogs and cats to fly for a small fee.

The air carrier now serves routes across more than two dozen key North American markets. In 2023 and beyond, JSX plans to expand both its domestic and international flight service with new routes and expansion plans underway, they say.

View their full route map here. All flights are available for booking via the JSX website.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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3 Houston sustainability startups score prizes at Rice University pitch competition

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A group of Rice University student-founded companies shared $100,000 of cash prizes at an annual startup competition — and three of those winning companies are focused on sustainable solutions.

Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship's H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge, hosted by Rice earlier this month, named its winners for 2024. HEXASpec, a company that's created a new material to improve heat management for the semiconductor industry, won the top prize and $50,000 cash.

Founded by Rice Ph.D. candidates Tianshu Zhai and Chen-Yang Lin, who are a part of Lilie’s 2024 Innovation Fellows program, HEXASpec is improving efficiency and sustainability within the semiconductor industry, which usually consumes millions of gallons of water used to cool data centers. According to Rice's news release, HEXASpec's "next-generation chip packaging offer 20 times higher thermal conductivity and improved protection performance, cooling the chips faster and reducing the operational surface temperature."

A few other sustainability-focused startups won prizes, too. CoFlux Purification, a company that has a technology that breaks down PFAS using a novel absorbent for chemical-free water, won second place and $25,000, as well as the Audience Choice Award, which came with an additional $2,000.

Solidec, a company that's working on a platform to produce chemicals from captured carbon, and HEXASpec won Outstanding Achievement in Climate Solutions Prizes, which came with $1,000.

The NRLC, open to Rice students, is Lilie's hallmark event. Last year's winner was fashion tech startup, Goldie.

“We are the home of everything entrepreneurship, innovation and research commercialization for the entire Rice student, faculty and alumni communities,” Kyle Judah, executive director at Lilie, says in a news release. “We’re a place for you to immerse yourself in a problem you care about, to experiment, to try and fail and keep trying and trying and trying again amongst a community of fellow rebels, coloring outside the lines of convention."

This year, the competition started with 100 student venture teams before being whittled down to the final five at the championship. The program is supported by Lilie’s mentor team, Frank Liu and the Liu Family Foundation, Rice Business, Rice’s Office of Innovation, and other donors

“The heart and soul of what we’re doing to really take it to the next level with entrepreneurship here at Rice is this fantastic team,” Peter Rodriguez, dean of Rice Business, adds. “And they’re doing an outstanding job every year, reaching further, bringing in more students. My understanding is we had more than 100 teams submit applications. It’s an extraordinarily high number. It tells you a lot about what we have at Rice and what this team has been cooking and making happen here at Rice for a long, long time.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

ExxonMobil's $60B acquisition gets FTC clearance — with one condition

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ExxonMobil's $60 billion deal to buy Pioneer Natural Resources on Thursday received clearance from the Federal Trade Commission, but the former CEO of Pioneer was barred from joining the new company's board of directors.

The FTC said Thursday that Scott Sheffield, who founded Pioneer in 1997, colluded with OPEC and OPEC+ to potentially raise crude oil prices. Sheffield retired from the company in 2016, but he returned as president and CEO in 2019, served as CEO from 2021 to 2023, and continues to serve on the board. Since Jan. 1, he has served as special adviser to the company’s chief executive.

“Through public statements, text messages, in-person meetings, WhatsApp conversations and other communications while at Pioneer, Sheffield sought to align oil production across the Permian Basin in West Texas and New Mexico with OPEC+,” according to the FTC. It proposed a consent order that Exxon won't appoint any Pioneer employee, with a few exceptions, to its board.

Dallas-based Pioneer said in a statement it disagreed with the allegations but would not impede closing of the merger, which was announced in October 2023.

“Sheffield and Pioneer believe that the FTC’s complaint reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the U.S. and global oil markets and misreads the nature and intent of Mr. Sheffield’s actions,” the company said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said it was “disappointing that FTC is making the same mistake they made 25 years ago when I warned about the Exxon and Mobil merger in 1999.”

Schumer and 22 other Democratic senators had urged the FTC to investigate the deal and a separate merger between Chevron and Hess, saying they could lead to higher prices, hurt competition and force families to pay more at the pump.

The deal with Pioneer vastly expands Exxon’s presence in the Permian Basin, a huge oilfield that straddles the border between Texas and New Mexico. Pioneer’s more than 850,000 net acres in the Midland Basin will be combined with Exxon’s 570,000 net acres in the Delaware and Midland Basin, nearly contiguous fields that will allow the combined company to trim costs.