Wheels Up is opening a 34,000 square feet Member Operations Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
The new facility will centralize essential operations functions, including schedulers, dispatchers, member services representatives, maintenance operations, and even meteorologists.
For members, the result should be a more dependable level of operations.
By the middle of 2023, when it is fully staffed, there should be around 350 positions.
Since opening a temporary MOC in Columbus, Ohio, at the beginning of June, Wheels Up cut recovery time by 42%.
Recovery time is an industry measurement when the original airplane or crew can’t execute a flight, and a replacement is needed.
“It’s like having a full orchestra in one place,” Wheels Up Chairman and CEO Kenny Dichter tells Private Jet Card Comparisons.
The project is being led by David Holtz, Chairman of Operations.
Holtz spent 42 years with Delta Air Lines in senior operations positions before joining Wheels Up earlier this year.
In 2020, Delta was recognized by Flight Global as the world’s best-performing airline of the past 10 years and the top North American airline by the judges in its Decade of Airline Excellence Awards.
Its merger with Northwest Airlines is considered one of the best-executed combinations in the industry.
For its part, Wheels Up has struggled not only with the same labor and supply chain issues that have roiled the industry but also with integrating the five operators it bought between 2019 and earlier this year.
Until it acquired TMC Jets, Wheels Up was a sales and marketing organization with flights on its branded King Airs and Citation Excel/XLSs operated by Gama Aviation Signature, which it later acquired.
Earlier this year, Wheels Up migrated all five operators to its UP Flight Management platform, enabling better visibility into airplane and crew availability across the fleet.
Holtz noted that each operator previously had different technology and its own operations centers.
While all were flying Wheels Up members, when there was a mechanical or a delay, it meant finding a replacement aircraft took multiple phone calls – and time.
“Customers hate the unknown. One of our main goals is quicker solutions…being able to shift and move quickly in recovery,” Holtz says.
He calls the job “blocking and tackling…10,000 small steps.”
Atlanta, with its multiple universities and global headquarters for Delta Air Lines, offers a large pool of talent, Holtz says.
“You can run an airline remotely. But you can’t run a great airline remotely,” Holtz adds.
The company is also working to combine the operating certificates of its carriers, which will further streamline operations.
The process involves working with the Federal Aviation Administration and local Flight Standard District Offices, or FSDOs. It can take years to complete, according to one industry executive.
However, Holtz believes the centralized operations center will improve members’ reliability.
Executives declined to say how much is being spent on the new facility. Earlier today, Wheels Up said it had raised $259 million via the issuance of equipment notes.
The company’s headquarters will remain in New York City.