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.
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.”
Wheels Up ended 2020 with 10,995 active members and $690 million in revenues. It’s forecast to reach $912 million this year
– Will Wheels Up be the first private jet company with its own co-branded credit card?
– The private aviation company sees a future for the Wheels Up brand in luxury lodging, yachts, and experiences to credit cards and financial services
Wheels Up is going public via a SPAC. It’s provides a rare look into the world of private jet companies, which are either privately held or subsidiaries of large publicly traded companies, with limited public data.
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).