Wheels Up, the revolutionary membership-based private aviation company, announced today it has completed an equity capital raise of $117.5 million. Fidelity Management & Research Company and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. led the round and were joined by existing investor, NEA as well as new institutional investors. The Company initially set out to raise $100 million but agreed to upsize the offering based on significant investor demand. The equity raise comes on the heels of a $90 million aircraft financing facility with KKR completed in June of this year.
Following completion of the capital raise, the Company’s equity is now valued at close to $700 million, with an enterprise value north of $1 billion.According to Wheels Up Founder and CEO Kenny Dichter, this latest round of financing will fund a number of growth initiatives, including adding to the Wheels Up exclusive fleet of Beechcraft King Air 350i aircraft; accelerating membership growth through further investment in sales and marketing; continued exploration of and planning for an expansion into Western Europe and other markets; and significant enhancement of the Company’s digital platform. Wheels Up is also looking at adding Citation X aircraft to its private fleet of King Air 350i and Citation Excel/XLS, starting as soon as the first quarter of 2018.
“The follow-on investments from Fidelity Management & Research Company, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price and NEA and the addition of KKR and others to our institutional backers, validates all that Wheels Up has achieved in the four short years since our launch,” Mr. Dichter said. “We share a common vision with our investors that Wheels Up can build on its market-leading position and further disrupt the space through enhanced digital offerings.”
Wheels Up was represented by Jefferies, UBS Investment Bank and BTIG, as placement agents for the equity private placement. Jefferies acted as sole placement agent for the $90 million credit facility with KKR.
Wheels Up is a revolutionary membership-based private aviation company that significantly reduces the upfront costs to fly privately, while providing unparalleled flexibility, service and safety. Created and led by renowned entrepreneur Kenny Dichter, Wheels Up offers guaranteed availability to its private fleet of new Beechcraft King Air 350i and Citation Excel/XLS aircraft to individual, family and corporate members. With the cutting-edge Wheels Up mobile app, members can seamlessly book flights, manage their accounts, participate in ride-share opportunities and select Hot Flights, a vast selection of one-way “empty leg” flights that are posted daily to the app and updated in real time. Members also have access to Wheels Down, a program featuring exclusive events and experiences, unique partner benefits and a full-service luxury concierge.
Wheels Up does not operate aircraft; FAA licensed and DOT registered air carriers participating in the program exercise full operational control of all flights offered by or arranged through Wheels Up. For on-demand flights and shuttle flights operated as scheduled service, Wheels Up acts solely as an agent for Wheels Up members and guests in arranging these flights on their behalf. For shuttle flights operated as Public Charter service, Wheels Up acts as principal in offering these flights subject to the DOT’s Public Charter rules contained in 14 CFR Part 380.