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.
The transaction values Wheels Up at an enterprise value of $2.1 billion and is expected to provide up to $790 million in cash proceeds when it closes in Q2
SPAC CEO Shakran sees “[M]any opportunities to leverage our experience and relationships to partner (Wheels Up) with other aspirational and luxury brands and to expand to international markets”
Following its acquisition spree, Wheels Up has the world’s second-largest for-hire fleet of private aircraft, behind only NetJets
Sometimes rumors do come true. As Reuters reported last week, Wheels Up Partners Holdings LLC this morning said it has entered into a definitive agreement to become publicly-traded via a merger with special purpose acquisition company, Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corp. (“Aspirational”) (NYSE: ASPL).
The Wheels Up move follows private aviation and eVTOL focused SPAC filings from Flexjet chairman Kenn Ricci, Surf Air, and Blade in recent months
This morning, a report from Reuters claims Wheels Up is in discussions with Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corp to go public through a merger with the SPAC blank-check acquisition company. The article said the deal could value the private aviation provider at “more than $2 billion.”
According to a Private Jet Card Comparisons’ analysis, Wheels Up is the second-largest operator of for-hire private aircraft behind NetJets with an estimated 8.3% of the market.
The deal values Blade at an estimated pro forma equity value of $825 million
Blade Urban Air Mobility follows SurfAir and Kenn Ricci, the principal of Flexjet, Sentient, FXAIR, PrivateFly owner Directional Aviation, into the public markets. Like the West Coast flight-sharing service and Ricci’s Zanite Acquisition Corporation, the vehicle is a special purpose acquisition company known as a SPAC.