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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Wheels Up King Air 350i

While Wheels Up doesn't use the term jet card for its products, it does have two offerings which are jet cards in all but name. At Wheels Up they use the term "Pre-Purchase Programs" to describe these products, and just like a jet card you are pre-paying to lock in time on their fleet.

The main aircraft in the Wheels Up fleet is the turbo-prop King Air 350i, so in a way it's no surprise that they don't use the term jet card. The other aircraft in their fleet is the Citation Excel/XLS light jet.

Wheels Up is a membership based program. For Individual/Family memberships the initial joining fee is $17,500 and then $8,500 in each renewal year. For Corporate memberships the initial fee is $29,500 and then $14,500 in annual dues starting in the second year.

Members can then use the King Airs at the rate of $3,950 an hour and the Citations for $6,950 an hour. All the aircraft are fitted with Gogo Biz Text & Talk wi-fi / VoIP connectivity systems.

There are two types of pre-purchase programs that Wheels Up offers. These are the standard types of programs that you can find in other jet cards:

  1. Hour programs, which offer pre-purchase of 10, 25 and 50 hours
  2. Fund programs, for deposits of $50k, $100k, $200k and $400k

The pre-purchase programs all have the same regular hourly rates, but members benefit from greater guaranteed availability, improved Peak Day access and other benefits that increase with the size of the purchase.

When members just pay as they fly (with no pre-purchase) Wheels Up provides 300 days of guaranteed availability for regular members and 315 days for corporate members. They also require 24 hours notice but will always attempt to secure an aircraft on less notice where available and possible.

With the pre-purchase programs the guaranteed availability increases up to 365 days, the peak days go down to 10 days and the notice period for booking drops down to as little as 12 hours. Each of these three features improve as the pre-purchase size increases, so for instance the $400k deposit has the best terms of 365 days guaranteed availability, 10 peak days and 12 hours booking notice. The 10 hour pre-purchase on the King Air costs $39,500 with 330 days guaranteed availability, 35 peak days and 24 hours booking notice.

Wheels Up don't charge a daily minimum, though they do have a one-hour minimum per flight segment. And, as is standard in the industry, they bill six minutes on take-off and six minutes on landing for taxi time. Wheels Up says their typical mission is from 700 to 1,000 nm and on average members fly 10 hours per month.

The company has grown rapidly since launching just a couple of years ago. It closed a $115 million funding round in late 2016 and plans to use the money for further growth, building out their app and launching in Europe.

Kenny Dichter, co-founder and CEO of Wheels Up, is predicting a 50% increase in revenue this year and an 80% increase in revenue flight hours.