Portside acquires Avianis licensing rights from Wheels Up

Wheels Up founder Kenny Dichter had called Avianis its ‘most important acquisition…think Double Click to Google’.

By Doug Gollan, July 6, 2023

Tech provider Portside has reached an agreement with Wheels Up to license its Avianis Systems, LLC. It will market, service, and develop the fleet management system.

Wheels Up previously said it plans to raise cash by divesting non-core assets.

The San Francisco-based company is a technology and software solutions provider for business and government aviation.

Its platform supports over 800 operators of private jets, helicopters, industrial and government fleets, and fractional jet ownership programs.

“We are excited to add Avianis to our industry-leading set of technology solutions,” said Alek Vernitsky, CEO and Co-founder of Portside.

He added, “As we continue to build a turn-key and scalable operating system for business aviation, Avianis brings important functionality, a best-in-class user experience, and an outstanding support team to our overall value proposition, and we see enormous potential to continue to develop and enhance the platform.”

Portside will continue to serve Avianis’s existing customer base, market to prospective customers, and develop new features for the platform.

“Key members of the Avianis product and support teams will join Portside to serve customer needs and future development opportunities,” according to the press release.

Intellectual property

Wheels Up retains the intellectual property associated with Avianis.

It will continue to maintain and develop its own internal instance of the platform as the Flight Management System for its first-party fleet.

“This agreement is evidence of the great product the Avianis team has built as part of the Wheels Up family and the continued value it adds for some of the top operators around the world,” said Dave Godsman, Wheels Up’s recently appointed Chief Digital Officer.

He continued, “Avianis has become an integral part of Wheels Up’s platform, and we are pleased it will continue to serve as a core piece of our operations.”

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

‘Most important acquisition’

Founder and former CEO Kenny Dichter previously called Avianis his “most important acquisition…think Double Click to Google.”

Then Chief Platform Officer and former CEO of Avianis, Daniel Tharp, told investors before Wheels Up’s July 2021 IPO that the technology would be the platform for “real-time, high-fidelity view of the inventory, not only for our own fleets here at Wheels Up but also for our fleet partners. This is when the global aircraft search engine comes into play. As we roll out this technology in the coming months, fleet operators around the world will be able to publish their high-fidelity fleet availability in real-time, making this the first hi-fi instantly searchable clearinghouse for private aviation aircraft supply.”

However, a spokesperson tells Private Jet Card Comparisons that the licensing deal doesn’t mean the end of Wheels Up’s ambitions to create an Airbnb-type marketplace for private jets.

“We continue to work toward our long-term vision of a technology-enabled marketplace for private aviation. Avianis has been an important part of that work as the connecting technology for our fleets and for other providers. This agreement allows us to continue to develop those capabilities and focus our efforts on delivering new features across our technology platform that we believe are margin-enhancing and improve our scheduling efficiency, delivery, and customer service,” he said.

Wheels Up bought Avianis for $14.4 million in cash and 2,011,495 in common interests in September 2019.

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