In 2017, Wheels Up continued its prolific fundraising. In 2018 it’s expanding its reach with a Citation X fleet. Now it confirms an IPO may be on the way.
Kenny Dichter, the founder and CEO of Wheels Up, has carved a preeminent spot for himself in the world of business aviation. In 2001 he approached then NetJets Chairman and CEO Richard Santulli with the idea he would buy shares in aircraft from the Warren Buffett owned fractional aircraft operator and then resell them in 25-hour chunks as jet cards. At the time, there was just a handful of players in that young jet card segment. Fractional shares start at 50 hours, so the idea was that Marquis Jet Partners would act as an entry point funneling customers to NetJets as their private flying increased. It did, but it also opened up a new market – affluent individuals and companies that didn’t want to commit to the then five-year contracts that fractional ownership entailed or didn’t anticipate needing 50 hours. It was easy. When you went through your 25 hours, you would call up and buy 25 more hours. There were no monthly management fees. When you flew, you paid.