Wheels Up Turns One, Plans for More Growth
As aircraft membership club Wheels Up celebrates its first anniversary next Friday, founder and CEO Kenny Dichter said the company has expanded in line with initial projections and he predicted even more growth in the coming year. “We currently have 28 airplanes, nearly 600 members and are on target for meeting and exceeding our business objectives. In a short time, we are a major player in the private aviation industry,” he said.
The Wheels Up fleet currently numbers 20 King Air 350is and six Cessna Citation XL/XLSs operated by partner Gama Aviation, as well as two Global 5000s owned by partner VistaJet and operated by Jet Aviation. Dichter expects this to rise to 27 King Airs, 10 XL/XLSs and three to five Globals by year-end and then double to 40 to 45 King Airs, 20 to 25 XL/XLSs and seven to 10 Globals by late next year. Wheels Up is also mulling additional aircraft types and is “looking closely” at the Citation CJ4, Sovereign and X.
Wheels Up expects to have 1,200 members for its closed charter fleet by year-end and some 2,500 by the end of next year. Currently, the company operates in the U.S. Northeast, Southeast and Southwest. By 2016, Wheels Up plans to cover the entire U.S. East and West Coasts and Texas, as well as a presence in Canada and Europe.