Following its $128 million raise last month, and acquisition of Travel Management Company with 24 light jets over the summer, Wheels Up has made a tech buy
Wheels Up has acquired Avianis Systems, LLC, for an undisclosed amount. It comes just six weeks after raising $128 million in a Class D Equity Round giving the New York-based private aviation membership company a billion-dollar valuation. The deal was first reported by Corporate Jet Investor in advance of its Revolution.aero conference being held today and tomorrow in San Francisco.
Booking a private jet should be as easy as booking a car with Uber or booking a home with AirbnbKenny Dichter, CEO, Wheels Up
Avianis, according to its website, provides a comprehensive platform approach to managing a complete flight operation in one system. In its pitch to its B2B customers, it claims, “This enables a more holistic and cyclical view of the entire business that allows you to stay in touch with every detail of your business in one web-based platform.”
The jet card provider is expanding its push on jet sharing via a partnership with WSJ+
Subscribers to the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ+ are being offered a significant flight credit with the purchase of a Wheels Up Connect Membership for $2,995. Wheels Up introduced the new entry-level price point earlier this year to increase the pool of members who want to share flights with its existing base who charter flights using fixed one-way rates and guaranteed availability.
The new program follows its light jet program introduced earlier this year.
When Wheels Up’s Kenny Dichter told Squawk Box on CNBC in January that it was working on strategic initiatives, common wisdom in the industry was the founder and CEO was following a similar move by XOJET in 2018, which ultimately led to its acquisition by Vista Global and merger with JetSmarter.
It hasn’t turned out that way.
Weeks later came Connect, a new entry-level membership, priced at $2,995 designed to increase the addressable mark of customers who want to share flights to save costs.
The jet card membership company said it will use the money for accelerating membership growth and possible acquisitions
Wheels Up said that it has completed its Class D equity capital raise of $128 million, according to a press release received by Private Jet Card Comparisons. The funds will be used to accelerate membership growth, fund technology investment, and perhaps even more acquisitions. In 2017, it raised $117.5 million in equity capital and $90 million in debt financing via KKR.
Earlier this year it had said it had hired Bank of America and Goldman Sachs to advise it on strategic initiatives.
New to the company’s roster of institutional investors from this round are funds managed by Franklin Templeton, which co-led the round with funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price and Fidelity Management & Research, along with other institutional and private investors.
The company’s post-money enterprise valuation is north of $1.1
billion, according to the release.
The pay-as-you-go membership program is broadening its customer base with its new $2,995 Connect Membership while launching a light jet program, anchored by the Citation Encore+, with a fixed hourly rate.
Wheels Up is no longer a two-trick pony. After five years making its mark principally on the back of King Air 350i with the help of the midsize Cessna Citation Excel/XLS, the New York-based privation aviation membership company is taking two big steps today. First, it is moving to fulfill founder and CEO Kenny Dichter’s vision of democratizing private travel even further with its new Connect Membership, which is focused on the concept of sharing flights, booking charter and accessing signature events.