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.
Wheels Up quietly started allowing non-members to book charter flights. It’s also launching a frequent flyer program and will allow Delta SkyMiles members to redeem miles on Wheels Up
Wheels Up has quietly begun allowing non-members to book charter flights through its app. The New York-based private aviation provider will also launch a frequent flyer program for its private jet customers by the end of the year. At the same time, members of the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program will be able to redeem miles for Wheels Up products and services.
The transition from Delta Private Jets branding to Wheels Up appears to be more or less complete as the former’s website is now a redirect to its new owner
In December 2019, Wheels Up announced it was acquiring Delta Private Jets. The deal also made Delta Air Lines a significant minority shareholder.
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).