Kenny Dichter and Wheels Up doled out less than $100 million in cash to build the second-largest private jet operator with a $2 billion valuation
When Wheels Up’s acquired 5th-biggest Part 135 charter operator Mountain Aviation in January, it pushed the group past Directional Aviation’s Flexjet as the second-largest for-hire private aircraft operator in the U.S. For Wheels Up founder and CEO Kenny Dichter, it was a day at the beach compared to another cold New York winter morning in early 2019. At that point, Wheels Up didn’t operate a single aircraft. Founded in 2013, its owned and leased fleet was outsourced to Gama Aviation Signature. Wheels Up was a big brand. Yet, it was merely a marketing organization selling memberships onto what was then mainly a fleet of King Air 350i turboprops.
Argus TRAQPak’s list of the largest U.S. private jet charter operators highlights the active mergers and acquisitions market
Argus TRAQPak’s list of the 25 largest U.S. Part 135 private jet operators ranked by flight hours highlights the industry’s frenetic merger and acquisition activity. Ten of the private jet charter operators were involved in transactions. Part 135 includes on-demand and jet card flights
Expect more mergers and consolidation with Part 135 private jet charter operators, says one investment bank
The Part 135 private jet charter market is ripe for consolidation and outside investment. That’s according to Brooks Crenshaw, managing director of Balmoral Advisors.
Despite consolidation, the 25 largest Part 135 and 91K operators account for only 25% of the U.S. private jet market
Why you won’t find Wheels Up when you look at lists of private aviation operators
Sizing the U.S. private jet market between Part 91, Part 91K fractional and Part 135 charter operators
8 of the 10 largest companies are led by the founder or family member
Here’s a big difference between the private jet market and the airlines. Just 10 airlines account for 90% of the domestic market for scheduled passenger traffic. Four companies – Delta Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines – are responsible for two-thirds of U.S. flights.
Despite consolidation, business aviation remains fragmented. An analysis by Private Jet Card Comparisons of various reports from Argus TRAQPak and other data shows the 25 largest operators of charter and fractional fleets together account for just 25% of all U.S. flying.