WheelsUp is launching a major expansion after raising $117.5 million from institutional investors such as Fidelity, T Rowe Price, and NEA at a valuation of $1 billion. The latest fundraising round comes on the heels of a $90 million investment from private equity firm KKR this past summer. Flush with cash, WheelsUp will continue to expand its fleet and is preparing to push into the European market with the launch of WheelsUp Europe in 2018. WheelsUp currently has a fleet of 65 Beechcraft King Air 350i turboprops (with 45 still on order) and 15 Cessna Citation Excel/XLS aircraft.
WheelsUp is a members-only private aviation company. In addition to an initiation fee and annual dues, members pay an hourly-rate for each flight leg. WheelsUp was originally founded as a cost-effective alternative to fractional jet ownership. However, similar to other private jet charters such as XOJet and JetSmarter, WheelsUp has launched an app in partnership with private jet charter Apollo Jets called 8760 where members can book empty-leg and shared private jet flights through WheelsUp and other partner charter operators.
With a fast-growing fleet, global ambitions, and sizeable financing, WheelsUp is poised to continue its rapid ascent to the top of the private aviation sector.