Wheels Up plans to acquire Air Partner


Wheels Up plans to acquire Air Partner in a deal that values the UK-based global aviation services group at about $107m.

The acquisition, which is expected to close in the first quarter subject to regulatory approvals, includes Air Partner’s 18 locations worldwide and is based on an ordinary share price of 125p per share. Wheels Up said the deal would provide a global platform to accelerate the company’s global growth and the expansion of its technology-enabled marketplace. Air Partner’s management team would be well positioned to facilitate integration, drive growth and expansion across new markets, it added.

Wheels Up chairman and CEO Kenny Dichter said the announcement marked a key new chapter for the business. “This acquisition will allow us to offer existing and future customers even more compelling and seamless options for private travel, expand the reach of our marketplace in key markets around the world and add important operational capabilities to our network,” said Dichter.

Air Partner CEO Mark Briffa said the proposed acquisition has a compelling strategic rationale, bringing together two businesses with complementary offerings and values for the benefit of their customers.

The Air Partner board believes that a combination with Wheels Up would give our customers, colleagues and stakeholders the additional resources of one of the largest private aviation companies in the world, enabling us to significantly enhance our technology, customer offer, and international aircraft supply,” said Briffa.

The proposed deal will enhance Wheels Up’s brand equity and add an experienced global team from a company with more than 60 years of continuous operations in private aviation, said the company. Air Partner’s relationship with international operators could extend the penetration of Wheels Up’s Flight Management System both in North America and worldwide. “Air Partner’s existing “asset-light” structure, with no owned aircraft or operating certificates, brings flexibility to scale Wheels Up’s international footprint more quickly and with limited capital investment,” it said. Their combined services were expected to appeal to individuals, families and business customers.

 Investment bank and financial services company Jefferies is acting as the exclusive financial advisor to Wheels Up.

Founded in 1961, Air Partner provides private jet, group and freight charter and aviation safety and security solutions to industry, commerce, governments and private individuals, across civil and military organisations. It employs a workforce of about 450 staff.

Read why Wheels Up plans to acquire Air Partner here.

Meanwhile, our sister title Corporate Jet Investor Quarterly last year charted how Dichter planned Wheels Up’s journey from launch in August 2013 to its listing on the New York Stock Exchange.