August 21, 2013
Wheels Up, the startup “private membership” charter and business aircraft services operation founded by Marquis Jet co-founder Kenny Dichter, is continuing to take shape, with an executive team forming that includes a number of industry veterans who have held senior positions in both the Part 135 and fractional operations markets.
Dichter announced the formation of Wheels Up earlier this month, signing the single largest contract for a fleet of business turboprops. That deal included firm orders for 35 Beechcraft King Air 340s and options for up to 70 more. Including the maintenance and services contract, the deal carries a potential value of $1.4 billion.
The King Airs will form the core of a network of regional services for Wheels Up. But the company has ambitious plans to offer membership and services to members using a range of aircraft that will be operated by other large fleet owners.
Dichter is estimating that his company will eventually attract a membership base of between 10,000-15,000 individuals and corporations and generate revenues between $1 billion and $2 billion. He more than reached those numbers with his Marquis Jet venture, which generated revenues exceeding $4 billion and another $1 billion in fractional sales during his tenure.
Dichter, who hopes to launch services later this year in the Northeast, will lead the entity as CEO with co-founder David Baxt as president. Baxt formerly was global head of Jefferies Aerospace & Defense Investment Banking Group.
Joining them are 15 more individuals on the senior leadership team, many of whom are well known within the industry – including two of the top executives who recently departed Executive Jet Management (EJM) and others from EJM affiliates NetJets and Marquis Jet.
Robert Garrymore, most recently EJM president, and Ronald Silverman, formerly senior vice president of aircraft management sales and owners services for EJM, have come onboard Wheels Up as president, ventures and executive vice president, ventures, respectively.
Others taking Wheels Up management roles are three former Marquis Jet executives: Carl Thornsberg, who had served as CFO at Marquis and will hold the same title at Wheels Up; Robert Withers, most recently vice president of supports marketing at Marquis Jet, now executive vice president at Wheels Up; Terrence Truta, formerly chief technology officer, holds the same role at Wheels Up; and Gary Spitalnik, former senior vice president of events and special projects at Marquis Jet, who is executive vice president, events in his new role at Wheels Up.
Rob Patris, who held senior roles with NetJets and Dave Hewitt, who has served with both NetJets and EJM, are taking the roles of executive vice president, flight operations and executive vice president, safety, respectively.