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.
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.
The pay-as-you-go jet card provider plans to introduce a new membership tier targeting lower frequency private air travelers in 2019
After helping develop the 25 hours per year private jet traveler with Marquis Jet Partners before selling it to NetJets, and then launching Wheels Up in 2013 with a pay-as-you-go model attractive to folks who fly under 25 hours per year, Wheels Up CEO Kenny Dichter says his next goal is to bring a branded, high-quality offering to people who fly under 10 hours per year.
Air Charter Services, Jetlogic and JetSuite are the most recent additions to the over three dozen providers that sell jet cards with both fixed rates and guaranteed availability
Private Jet Card Comparisons has identified over 65 variables between the over 40 jet card providers and 250 programs we track, and while some points are not important to everyone, each variable can impact the programs that best fit your needs. That said, some variables are universally important, two of the biggest ones being guaranteed availability and a fixed one-way hourly rate.
Wheels Up co-founder and CEO Kenny Dichter says his jet card membership company is on track to double members within the next three-and-a-half years
Speaking at Revolution.Aero being held in San Francisco, Wheels Up founder and CEO Kenny Dichter told an audience of aviation executives and investors his company will be ready to participate in futuristic private aviation solutions as they develop. “If electric (aircraft) is happening, we want to distribute the technology to our members,” he said. The conference is focused on the future of aviation, including new solutions targeting trips under 300 miles, typically the drive, train and bus market.
Wheels Up offers pay-as-you-go jet card memberships on its fleet of King Air 350i, Citation Excel/XLS and Citation X
With its family memberships starting at $17,500 and then offering pay-as-you-go flying with fixed rates and guaranteed availability Wheels Up has long positioned itself as a leader in democratizing private air travel.
In 2017, Wheels Up continued its prolific fundraising. In 2018 it’s expanding its reach with a Citation X fleet. Now it confirms an IPO may be on the way.
Kenny Dichter, the founder and CEO of Wheels Up, has carved a preeminent spot for himself in the world of business aviation. In 2001 he approached then NetJets Chairman and CEO Richard Santulli with the idea he would buy shares in aircraft from the Warren Buffett owned fractional aircraft operator and then resell them in 25-hour chunks as jet cards. At the time, there was just a handful of players in that young jet card segment. Fractional shares start at 50 hours, so the idea was that Marquis Jet Partners would act as an entry point funneling customers to NetJets as their private flying increased. It did, but it also opened up a new market – affluent individuals and companies that didn’t want to commit to the then five-year contracts that fractional ownership entailed or didn’t anticipate needing 50 hours. It was easy. When you went through your 25 hours, you would call up and buy 25 more hours. There were no monthly management fees. When you flew, you paid.