Wheels Up becomes the first major jet card provider to offer four guaranteed availability jet cabin categories and a turboprop program on a national basis
What a difference a year makes. At this time last year, rumors were swirling. Wheels Up was expanding beyond its core King Air 350i and Citation Excel fleet with an off-fleet light jet program.
The new programs, effective January 2nd, will offer dynamic trip pricing with capped hourly rates and guaranteed availability nationwide. They will run across five cabin categories, from its King Air 350i fleet to light, midsize, super-midsize, and large jets.
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 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 deal, which is being announced this morning, and closed Friday, adds 26 light jets to the Wheel Up fleet
Wheels Up announced this morning that it has closed a deal to acquire Elkhart, Indiana-based Travel Management Company (TMC), a significant fleet operator of owned and leased light jets serving the on-demand charter market. The deal will increase the current Wheels Up fleet to 119 owned and leased aircraft. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
For Wheels Up founder Kenny Dichter, who helped popularize jet cards by launching Marquis Jet Partners in 2001 before selling it to NetJets in 2010, the move comes after he announced in January he had hired Goldman Sachs and Bank of America to provide advice on strategic options.