Wheels Up Expands Nationally

King Airs headed to Dallas and Houston.

Wheels Up King Air 350i

Wheels Up King Air 350i

** Wheels Up King Air 350i**

Wheels Up, the membership-based private aviation company launched last year in the Northeast with a fleet of Beechcraft King Air 350i turboprops, announced today that the service is expanding into Texas and several surrounding states. Earlier this year the start-up company began basing airplanes on the West Coast, leaving the Chicago region as the last major uncovered territory.

Wheels Up will base its airplanes in Dallas and Houston for trips locally and regionally, including as far away as Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Kenny Dichter, founder of Wheels Up and former vice chairman at NetJets, said the company expects to have a fleet of 27 King Airs by the end of the year and around 1,000 members. Dichter in August 2013 placed an order for 105 King Air 350i twin turboprops , and later announced plans to add refurbished Cessna Citation XLS/Excel models to the fleet.

Asked about fleet expansion plans, Dichter indicated he would like to stick with Textron Aviation products, perhaps by adding refurbished super-midsize Cessna Citation Sovereigns.

Wheels Up has a unique pricing structure that is proving popular with members, who pay an up-front annual fee and hourly rates for airplane usage with guaranteed availability. Pricing for flying on Wheels Up King Airs requires a one-time payment of $15,750, which drops to $7,250 annual in subsequent years. Members then pay $3,950 per hour.

Dichter said Wheels Up is developing an app that will let members share seats on airplanes headed to the same destination. The app will be launched as soon as the company clears regulatory hurdles with the FAA, which recently ruled that certain ride-sharing websites run afoul of commercial air charter rules.

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