CJI Quarterly cover story: Wheels Up’s way to Wall Street


Wheels Up’s journey from its 2013 launch to its forthcoming listing on the New York Stock Exchange is the cover story in the latest edition of Corporate Jet Investor Quarterly (CJIQ).

Our 12-page profile recounts how Kenny Dichter, founder and CEO, launched the company eight years ago with an order for 105 King Air 350i aircraft valued at $788m. Guided by the principle that “Booking a private jet should be as easy as booking a car with Uber or booking a home with Airbnb,” Dichter built a team of key industry insiders to prepare Wheels Up for the growth that has placed it on the brink of its Wall Street listing.

The feature traces Dichter’s conversion to private aviation in the summer of 2000. It notes key business waypoints such as its 2015 decision to purchase a further 35 King Air 350i turboprops, its 2017 finance rounds followed in 2019 by its merger with Delta Private Jets and acquisition of TMC Jets and, a year later, Gama Aviation Signature. We talk to the people who have guided the company’s development and offer the inside track on Wheels Up’s agreement to merge with blank cheque company – or  Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) –  Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corporation to form a business valued at $2.1bn.

First Look also becomes a last look

Each edition of CJIQ focuses on planes, people and passion. The latest in our First Look series focused on the Learjet 75 Liberty. Never has our First Look also become a last look on the business aircraft in focus. But in mid-February Bombardier Business Aircraft revealed its intention to half production of the Learjet later this year. We talk to a range of industry observers to deliver a view of what niche the Learjet 75 Liberty will inhabit and what are its prospects for success. Nearly six decades on from its launch it’s 1963, we bid farewell to the business beloved by owners such as Marlon Brando, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

Staying with the theme of business jet performance, we tell the story of two intrepid medevac pilots who lost both engines of their Cessna Citation ll and brought their aircraft to a successful deadstick landing at Savannah, Georgia. Read how the captain’s decision to rehearse a double engine flame out during a simulator session weeks previously and the co-pilot’s long experience in a glider cockpit helped turn tragedy into a safe, if unexpected, landing in Savannah, Georgia.

Sadly, the tragedy that claimed the life of young football star Emiliano Sala and his pilot David Ibbotson, when their PA-46 Piper Malibu Channel crashed into the English could, not be averted. We probe the challenge of illegal charter and how countries around the world are striving to remedy the problem. Experts from Air Charter Association, NetJets, law firm Shackelford Bowen McKinley & Norton and Air Fleet Operations explain the latest thinking on how to end the problem of illegal charter once and for all.

Turning to aircraft connectivity, our buyer’s guide helps investors choose a connectivity solution best suited to their needs. Seven industry experts share what readers need to know about the differences between Ka band and Ku band, installation and maintenance costs and a host of other topics. We offer a handy double-page table guide to which companies offer what connectivity services.

Aircraft appraisals

Staying with costs, our feature on appraisers offers insight into “the dark art” (and part science) of aircraft appraisals. Seven veteran valuers offer their insight into this vital business aviation industry service. Some 40 years ago, a short-form bill of sale and a brisk handshake was enough to conclude a deal. Today, a far more sophisticated approach is needed. Bob Zuskin, owner Jet Perspectives, told us: “Aviation is such a big universe of airplanes – general aviation, historical aviation, corporate aircraft, speciality aircraft – I defy anyone to be competent in anyone of those arenas. It’s a mix between art and science.”

Handshakes are still important for the subject of this edition’s Aircraft Family – the Foster family behind OGARAJETS. The company’s president and CEO Johnny Foster told us: “We do deals by handshakes … our word is our bond.” Spanning two generations of the Foster family, broker dealer OGARAJETS celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. We report how the business is making plans for its next four decades.

Two conference reports – from CJI Americas 2020 and Revolution.Aero Global 2020 – plus our Day in the Life profile of John Farrish, owner InFlight Law, who begins each day with gym practise and prayer, concludes the latest edition of Corporate Jet Investor.

Meanwhile, register for your copy of CJIQ here or read the digital version here.


Corporate Jet Investor Quarterly features – at a glance

Meanwhile, register for your copy of Corporate Jet Investor Quarterly here or read the digital version here.


Book your copy of Corporate Jet Investor Quarterly here or read the digital version here.