Wheels Up Valued At $1.1 Billion With $128 Million Series D

  • General
  • August 12, 2019
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  • 4 minutes read
image: Wheels Up

Wheels Up, a membership-based private aviation startup, recently announced $128 million in Series D funding that values it at $1.1 billion post-money, up from $700 million in 2017. The funding was co-led by Franklin Templeton, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price, and Fidelity, with participation from other unnamed investors. With this investment, New York-based Wheels Up has raised roughly $540 million in total funding.

The new funding will fund a number of business initiatives, including potential acquisitions, sales and marketing, “significant scaling” of Wheels Up’s tech and digital platforms, and acceleration of membership growth. Wheels Up operates a membership-based private aviation service that lets members book private flights with as little as 24 hours notice, and pay fixed hourly rates. Wheels Up has more than 6,000 members, who can choose from a fleet of 1,000+ partner operated aircraft.

Wheels Up members can also reduce the cost of private flights by sharing with other members, similar to carpooling. The company’s business model is similar to that of JetSmarter, which was acquired by VistaJet earlier this year.

Wheels Up was founded by Kenny Dichter, an entrepreneur who also founded Marquis Jets, a private aviation service that let members pay in advance for hours of flying time on private jets. Berkshire Hathaway’s NetJets acquired Marquis Jets in 2010. Wheels Up launched in 2013 with a $1.4 billion contract with aviation company Beechcraft. The contract involved the purchase of 105 aircraft valued at $788 million, plus $600 million worth of maintenance services. At the time, the deal was believed to be the largest order ever placed for a fleet of propeller-driven aircraft.

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