US membership-based private aircraft firm Wheels Up has returned to NBAA reiterating its commitment to grow its membership from 6,000 to 10,000 members within two years, and deliver on-demand private aviation to world as soon as possible.
Speaking at a press conference at the show this morning Wheels Up founder and chief executive Kenny Dichter said: “We want to bring not just the private flying experience to everybody, but the private flying lifestyle to everybody. The sky is the limit.”
He says everyone is a “potential user of private aviation”, if the aircraft become accessible and affordable enough.
"We can do this by providing a seamless, user friendly, mobile digital platform which will turn Wheels Up into the “best third-party logistics company for the aviation industry,” says Dichter.
Wheels Up arrives at the show in the wake of its acquisition of US technology company Avianis Systems, which Dichter describes “a formidable addition to our expanding organisation”.
Avianis has developed a digital flight management system (FMS), which simplifies and streamlines operations for business aircraft owners and providers.
Benefits of the FMS include the ability to calculate real-time aircraft pricing and availability, and the opportunity to create "new revenue streams through access to additional flight demand at scale”, Wheels Up says.
The New York-headquartered company will use FMS technology to accelerate development of its digital platform. This includes enhancing Wheels Up’s digital charter marketplace, which currently connects more than 1,200 “safety-vetted and verified aircraft” to its growing membership base.
“These members are able to instantly look, book, and fly through the Wheels Up app,” Wheels Up says. Following the Avianis acquisition, current and future Wheels Up members will “greatly benefit from a significantly larger number of private aircraft to choose from, as well as even more competitive real-time pricing,” it adds.
Wheels Up has a branded fleet of close to 100 Textron Aviation aircraft, notably Citation Excels/XLSs, Citation Xs and over 70 King Air 350i twin-turboprops, which are from a 2013 order for 105 of the type and form the backbone of Wheels Up’s membership programme. The company also owns 26 Hawker 400XPs through its acquisition of Travel Management Company earlier this year