Wheels Up plans to add Cessna Citation Excels and Sovereigns to its private aviation membership program, the company announced on Friday. The first Citations are set to become available to Wheels Up members around the end of the first quarter. Cessna is currently outfitting the first of these with Wheels Up’s blue-and-white livery and with revamped cabins providing Wi-Fi connectivity.
Cessna has yet to confirm the exact terms under which the aircraft will be made available, but they will be for the exclusive use of Wheels Up members, who will be able to buy time in the jets in blocks of 10, 25, 50 or 100 flight hours. Also to be determined is who will operate the Citations on behalf of Wheels Up, but Cessna has agreed to support them under its ProAdvantage maintenance program.
In a CNBC interview with Wheels Up founder and CEO Kenny Dichter on Friday, Cessna CEO Scott Ernest indicated that the initial commitment calls for the manufacturer to provide no more than 20 Citations, but it is unclear whether these will come from the manufacturer’s CitationAir charter fleet. Dichter expects to take between 120 and 150 Citations over the next seven years if the membership base for the program reaches 10,000 by 2020. As of mid-December, Wheels Up had approximately 150 members and Dichter expected this number to reach at least 250 by month-end.