Courtesy AIN 9/28/15 – This morning a group of financial institutions led by T. Rowe Price announced a $115 million capital injection for private flight membership program Wheels Up. The investment is backed by Fidelity Management and Research Company and NEA, and, according to Wheels Up, values the two-year old company at $500 million.
Wheels Up founder and CEO Kenny Dichter said that the fresh funds will support further expansion of the company’s U.S. operations, as well as its plan to begin operations in Europe and the development of new technology platforms, such as its Wheels App member-to-member flight sharing feature.
With flights operated for it by Gama Aviation, the Wheels Up fleet now numbers 45 Beechcraft King Air 350i twin turboprops and 10 Cessna Citation Excel/XLS jets. As of September 2015, Wheels Up reported 1,600 members. Wheels Up membership costs include a first year membership price, then annual dues thereafter, plus per hour rate for the King Air 350i or Citation Excel; Wheels Up membership costs.
“We believe Wheels Up has the rare combination of experienced entrepreneurs, business model innovation and a strong financial model,” said Henry Ellenbogen, portfolio manager at T. Rowe Price. “Wheels Up has developed network density and provides real customer value. It has the potential to be a much larger company,” Ellenbogen noted.
Other news alerts about Wheels Up:
Citation Emergency, Door Opens in Flight – Live ATC recording
Wheels Up Takes Delivery of “Pink Plane” In Time for October