Wheels Up Eyeing 100-aircraft Fleet By End of 2018

A little more than four years after launching its business, private aviation provider Wheels Up has built a fleet of 78 Beechcraft King Air 350is and Cessna Citation Excel/XLSs and is approaching 4,000 members, but is setting its sights on a 100-aircraft fleet by the end of next year and 10,000 members by the end of 2020. And, all the while, the company is positioning itself to go public in the next year or two.

CEO and co-founder Kenny Dichter said the company has remained on track with its business plan—“we are where we thought we’d be four years ago”—but sees substantial opportunity for growth. Noting an anticipated run rate of $300 million this year, the company has the potential to become a billion-plus-dollar business, he said. Dichter credited his team and strong partnerships with Textron Aviation and its fleet operator, Gama Aviation, for paving the way for growth. He also noted the success of the King Air, describing it as a “workhorse.”

The company in late June closed on a credit facility that “locked in our ability to take our next 17 King Airs.” The company further is eying expansion into Western Europe, first from its Flight Desk digital platform—which connects its members with “partner” aircraft—and then with the King Air program. A decision on the latter is anticipated by early next year.

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