Wheels Up will dramatically broaden the attractiveness of its program when it formally launches its Citation X program .
Wheels Up will be taking its members who want further and faster in 2018. Founder and CEO Kenny Dichter revealed to Private Jet Card Comparisons that the jet card membership provider has taken delivery of its first three Citation X private jets. With a speed of up to 700 miles per hour and a range of nearly 3,700 miles, it will be the third aircraft type in the Wheels Up fleet, joining the King Air 350i and Citation Excel/XLS aircraft. The latter has a range of 1,930 miles at 507 mph. The King Air 350i can fly up to 1,265 miles at 360 mph.
Wheels Up, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary, expects its fleet to exceed 100 planes by year’s end, and Dichter says more than a half dozen of the super fast jets will be part of it. The addition of the Citation X provides an aircraft that can fly to Hawaii or Europe as well as provide a nonstop coast-to-coast range. It is a sea change from Wheels Up’s roots which were based around the King Air 350i turboprop, which is well suited for short hops under two hours.
Dichter says Wheels Up has not announced a membership program for the Citation X, however, he says he expects to end 2018 with a run rate of over $400 million in sales and 6,000 active members. Dichter is one of the fathers of the jet card membership segment, launching Marquis Jet Partners in 2001 before selling it to NetJets.
The addition of the Citation X will make Wheels Up more attractive to customers who need longer range solutions for their flying needs. Its current program allows members to upgrade and downgrade between its two aircraft types. Wheels Up owns its aircraft, which are operated by GAMA Aviation, including flight operations, maintenance control, dispatch, logistics, accounting, and flight following.
Dichter declined to confirm whether or not Wheels Up will launch a European program this year. Surf Air launched a version of its U.S. by the seat program last summer using the Embraer Phenom 300.