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.
Private aviation could see record demand in the coming months, says Wheels Up’s Kenny Dichter
Speaking on Dow Jones Marketwatch, Wheels Up’s Kenny Dichter says he thinks “when business travel and traditional vacation come back online, you may see 125%, 150% sort of demand levels.”
“The Middle East…will be one of the first ones we will be starting working on,” incoming Wheels Up board member Ravi Thakran told Arabian Business
As Wheels Up plots its global expansion plans, it looks like the Middle East is at the top of the list.