Wheels Up chooses the Cessna Citation as its next private jet
Wheels Up plans to add 120-150 Cessna Citation private jets to its fleet by 2020, after placing a firm order for around 20 aircraft.
Wheels Up, an exclusive flight club for private jet passengers, has chosen the Cessna Citation jet as the next aircraft that its members will be able to charter, with co-founder Kenny Dichter claiming that he expects 120-150 Citation Excels and Sovereigns to join the Wheels Up fleet by 2020.
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Dichter told CNBC in a live television interview that the Citation is the next logical step-up from the King Air, which was chosen to launch the company in August 2013.
“On the flights less than two hours, you want to fly the King Air, but 60 per cent of the lift that we’re going to need for our 10,000 members in 2020 is going to happen on jet planes and Cessna is the number one light, mid cabin and super-mid cabin plane manufacturer in the world,” Dichter said.
“Based on the way our membership is stacking up, we’re going to need 15-20 airplanes a year,” he added. “We’re going to do a combination of pre-owned that they’re going to refurb for us and back-up for us; we’re going to do new planes where appropriate and we can take 15-20 airplanes a year.”
Appearing alongside Dichter, Scott Ernest, president and CEO of Cessna, says the manufacturer has received firm orders for a “little bit less” than 20 aircraft.
Ernest also confirmed that conversion activity is already underway, with the company outfitting the first of the aircraft’s with Wheels Up’s trademark blue and white colour scheme and Wi-Fi ready cabins.
“Kenny is an individual that really understands the market with what he’s done at Marquis Jet,” said Ernest. “We feel we have a very competitive product, it’s reliable…and Kenny opens up a whole new space of customers that can access the product.”
Wheels Up has previously identified Gama Aviation, Jet Suite and VistaJet as partners, but it has not yet been made clear which company will operate its Citation fleet.
By the end of 2013, the company will have a fleet of nine King Airs (with 19 more expected in 2014), around 150 members and 40 full time employees. It has also signed up around 150 equity investors.