October 23, 2013
With the imminent launch of its new U.S. service, Wheels Up announced it is already planning to expand into Europe, grow its fleet well beyond 100 aircraft and introduce a second private membership aviation program to its portfolio.
Founder and CEO Kenny Dichter says that the company will spend the next two years establishing its services in the U.S. but in three years will be ready to cross the Atlantic and launch an equivalent service, based perhaps in London. “The market in the U.S. is too huge to ignore,” says Dichter, “and we will spend the next 24 months developing it. In that time I think you’ll also see our aircraft start to appear in Canada, too, but in three years we’ll be in Europe. There are other areas, like Africa and India, that offer us a tremendous opportunity too.”
Dichter says that his planned fleet of 105 Beechcraft King Air 350i aircraft, “and probably more,” will be fully engaged in operations in North America and Western Europe. “This is part of the democratization of aviation,” he says, “giving access to the next 100,000 people in the aviation pyramid. By the end of this year we’ll have nine aircraft and over 300 qualified members. By the end of 2014 I expect to have 1,500 members.”
The next step in the Wheels Up grand plan is already taking shape. Referencing the existing relationship with Vistajet – with whom Wheels Up has partnered to offer a fleet of Bombardier Global long-range jets operated by Jet Aviation – Dichter says that there is now room for an entirely new product. “What we offer with Vistajet is the top end of our services. What we offer with the King Air is at the bottom. You’ll be hearing about our plan to fill that middle segment very, very soon.”