Wheels Up Aircraft Sales added to company portfolio
Wheels Up has launched a new business focusing on aircraft brokerage, acquisition, advisory and trade service this week (August 12th). By adding Wheels Up Aircraft Sales, the US firm now provides services – including aircraft management, whole aircraft sales and private jet membership – which were part of its long-term plan, according to CEO, Kenny Dichter.
Leading Wheels Up’s new business are co-founders of NetJets aircraft sales division QS Partners, John Odegard and Seth Zlotkin, and former Jetcraft senior vice president of sales for the Americas, Chris Brenner. The trio brings a near half-century of combined experience and more than $1bn in aircraft transactions.
“Adding whole aircraft sales and advisory services has been part of our long-term vision for Wheels Up,” said Dichter. “The timing is perfect – in that we see a meaningful shift in the addressable market and overall interest in private flying. With this new platform, we will have the capability to support the entire lifecycle of a private flyer.”
The global pandemic appears to not have slowed the expansion of Wheels Up. In early March, the company bought the air operations division of Gama Aviation Signature for an estimated $70-$75m. “This is a cornerstone investment. Wheels Up is on its way to being a leader in on-demand private aviation worldwide,” Dichter told Corporate Jet Investor. The move means Wheels Up now has a fleet of more than 300 aircraft and employs more than 1,000 pilots.
The plan was set in motion at last year’s CJI Miami conference in Florida. Dichter unveiled his blueprint to attract millions of new customers to private aviation, using smart phone technology.
“Private aviation is something that all of humanity is hard-wired to be part of.” Dichter outlined a bold vision of converting the Total Addressable Market (TAM) into millions of new customers. For inspiration he looked to the global ride-sharing company Uber.“The Total Addressable Market for taxis and limousines only 10 years ago was about $11bn in the US, today it is $200bn,” said Dichter.“ I think collectively as a business sector, there are 100,000 people in businesses we are servicing today. At Wheels Up we want to service 10, 50, 100 times that number.”