Instajet's Nicholas Davis had a long trail of failures

The founder of private jet flight provider Instajet was behind at least three other failed companies with unpaid bills.

By Doug Gollan, February 14, 2024

According to a review of filings from Companies House in the U.K. and media reports, the founder of Instajet Club, Nicholas Davis, had affiliations with multiple other companies that closed, including at least two significant shutdowns.

While the Instajet website remains online, it has had a placeholder logo for several weeks.

The 2021 start-up claimed it would disrupt the charter, jet card, and fractional ownership segment.

Ultimately, Instajet left multiple members out hundreds of thousands of dollars given to Davis with the promise of future flights.

Instajet launches

Davis came to various conferences alongside a vigorous public relations effort in launching.

An early press release crowed, “New global private aviation community, Instajet, is launching a direct, transparent business model for private aviation, benefiting the entire industry.”

Davis first promised instant hard quotes via an app, something he said would modernize the on-demand charter market where brokers, consumers, and operators trade multiple calls and emails to secure a booking.

Davis then rolled out fixed-route pricing in Europe and the U.S.

He said that securing airplanes that only fly on specific routes eliminated repositioning legs, crew overnights, and other expenses, enabling Instajet to charge lower prices.


In both cases, he sold his programs as an alternative to typical jet cards. There was no need to deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The company claimed, “With its per-flight business model and escrow-based unlimited financial protection for every flight, Instajet reassures passengers that they are making safe and secure risk-free, flexible flight reservations.”

Private jet flights between New York and South Florida were being marketed for $8,000, less than half the going rate.

In 2022 Instajet then launched a concept where he said members would have access to an airplane for a full day instead of by the hour.

‘This guy purported to be a millionaire but turned out to be a man of straw. I don’t think I’ve ever been so comprehensively hoodwinked.’

– June Hamilton, Secretary, Yachting Journalists’ Association

We wrote, “Instajet is hoping its third try is the charm. After launching last year with on-demand instant pricing and then adding fixed-rate route pricing with guaranteed availability, the U.K.-based broker is stopping both offers. At the same time, it is launching a new by-the-day charter concept in the U.S.

The full-day program then became a half-day offer.

While Davis didn’t publicize it, he also sold more traditional guaranteed availability and fixed-rate jet cards.

Multiple program members say Instajet couldn’t fulfill flights.

Then Davis continued to string them along and would not provide refunds.

In October 2022, Davis threatened us with legal action for publishing a report, “What’s happening at start-up Instajet?”

READ: Caveat Emptor: Avoiding private jet scams, bankruptcies, and shutdowns

Business failures

Davis came onto the scene with a story about how he was an innovator. He helped Sunseeker develop the first private aviation program for its yachting clients more than 20 years ago.

It now appears that Nicholas Davis, who started Instajet, is the same Nicholas Davis who was involved with several other significant business failures.

According to newspaper reports, in 2014, “Around 100 armed security staff hired to protect ships and tankers from pirates have been left scattered at sea after one of the world’s biggest maritime security firms ceased trading while allegedly owing millions in unpaid salaries.”

The Independent reported:

More than a dozen Britons are among those left high and dry in treacherous waters, including off the coast of Somalia, when Lymington-based Gulf of Aden Group Transits (GoAGT) collapsed last week. Employees were woken in the early hours on Friday to find an email from the firm’s chief executive Nick Davis stating that ‘current and planned operations’ would now be carried out on their behalf by Sea Marshals, another Private Management Security Company (PMSC).

Former soldier Mark Mullins, 37, from Dymchurch in Kent, spoke to The Independent via satellite phone from his ship ‘in the middle of the ocean.’

He said, ‘There are around 45 of us on this ship with 15 Brits. I was woken up by the vessel manager at two in the morning on Friday, along with 10 others, to be given a piece of paper with Nick’s email. The reaction was not good – we just started wondering how we’re going to get home. That’s my main concern. Some of the guys have been at sea without means of checking their bank accounts and living on false promises.’

Mr. Mullins had been working for GoAGT for 16 months and said he extended his latest 90-day contact by a month because he felt loyalty to the company. He claims he is owed around £16,000 and that after gathering information from staff worldwide believes that colleagues are owed millions altogether.

Mr. Mullins said, ‘The Eastern European guys alone are owed more than £200,000. Some of the Filipino guys are on six-month contracts so they’re owed more. By my calculations people at sea and at home are owed around £4.7m. It will take be about 10 days to get home and I hope my landlord is understanding, but some of the other guys could lose their homes.’

However, Davis was already moving on.

The Independent continues:

Mr. Davis has managed to establish more companies this year. In April he set up 888 aero, which for a flat fee of more than £20,000 advises on buying and selling aircraft. The company, whose slogan is ‘corporate and operational excellence in a complex and challenging domain,’ is based at London Oxford Airport.

The following month he gave an interview describing plans for establishing 100 locations that would offer internet shoppers collection ‘pods’ on the high street, in supermarkets and lobbies of large offices.

Local Letterbox, based at the same address as GoAGT, had been tested at the head office of internet fashion retailer Asos in North London.

Mr. Davis said he was looking for capital and planned to begin building own-brand shops of about 1,000 sq ft next year – aiming for 3,000.

The Independent spoke to Davis at his 888 Aero office.

He said, “I’m trying to sort out a big mess. My focus at the moment is to try to recover things and get anyone who is owed money what they are owed. There’s no big fat pot of money somewhere that anyone is going to get anything from.”

Unpaid bills

In December 2014, Practical Boat Owner reported, “Yachtsman of the Year Awards in doubt after sponsor goes bust.”

It noted, “Sponsor Nick Davis, of Apollo Boats, has gone to ground without paying for last year’s YJA Yachtsman of the Year Awards.”

Apollo was formed in July 2013 and dissolved in September 2015.

June Hamilton, Yachting Journalists’ Association Secretary, told the website, “This guy purported to be a millionaire but turned out to be a man of straw. I don’t think I’ve ever been so comprehensively hoodwinked.”

Nicholas Justin Davis

Nicholas Justin Davis, born in December 1970, is listed as a director of a dozen businesses in addition to Instajet.

Merchant Maritime Warfare Centre Limited was formed in 2009 and dissolved in 2021. It was also known by GoAGT Limited.

It showed an address on the Isle of Wight, where Davis was based.

1550 Club was formed in October 2012 and dissolved in December 2016.

A2RM Limited launched in February 2013 and was dissolved in June 2016.

Local Letterbox Ltd was started in October 2012 and dissolved in July 2016.

Centifloat Ltd was started in May 2015 and dissolved in December 2015.

READ: What happens to your jet card and private jet membership deposits?

Scoot, Powdair, Local Letterbox

Scoot Ferries Limited, where Davis was also a director, went from administration to insolvency.

In 2015, it closed, leaving over 30 staff out of work and unpaid.

Nick Davis Local Letterbox

However, Davis was on to a new venture, an airline.

Aviation Week reported in December 2017, “Ski specialist airline Powdair has confirmed that all flights this winter have been canceled but has vowed to relaunch in 2018, operating its own aircraft.”

On The Wight wrote, “The Isle of Wight couple behind the failed Scoot ferry service, Zoe Ombler, and Nick Davis, are appealing for a £3m investment to save their budget airline company.”

Over 5,000 passengers had booked flights, according to the report.

The website quoted Ombler as saying:

‘I fail to see what on earth the failure of Scoot Ferries has to do with Powdair. I am head of commerical for an airline entirely unconnected with the IW and this is not even vaguely similar to what happened with Scoot. The idea that we go around doing this sort of thing as a habit – it’s not true.’

After Local Letterbox failed in 2014, Ombler said, “We had been seeking funding to enable our rollout, but with the sudden and unexpected forced closure of our parent company were left with no option but to cease trading with immediate effect.”

Davis did not respond to an email seeking comment.

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