NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Kenny Dichter, Founder and CEO of Wheels Up, the revolutionary membership-based private aviation company, today announced an expanded relationship with Textron Aviation Inc., a subsidiary of Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) and home to both Cessna Aircraft Company and Beechcraft Corporation. Working with Cessna, Wheels Up will add a mix of 10 factory custom refurbished Cessna Citation Excel and XLS jets to the Wheels Up program. With the addition of these aircraft, Wheels Up now offers members access to a closed-fleet of midsize Cessna Citation jets to complement the existing closed-fleet of Beechcraft King Air 350i aircraft.
The first several Citation jets will be based on the East Coast, with the first aircraft to be displayed at an exclusive preview event at Westchester County Airport on Wednesday, June 4. Aircraft delivery will expand to multiple regions throughout 2014.
“Since our August 2013 launch, we have seen rapid growth and broad-based demand for our King Air 350i offering. The addition of the Citation Excels and XLS’s will allow Wheels Up to meet the needs of our membership for longer range lift as we build out our total aviation solution,” said Dichter. “We will also be exploring the acquisition of additional Cessna products, including the Citation CJ4 and Citation Sovereign, as they are both highly competitive aircraft. By year end, we’ll have a fleet comprised of 27 King Air 350i’s and 10 Citation Excel and XLS’s, plus five VistaJet Global 5000’s.”
Each aircraft will have the Wheels Up distinctive sleek blue and white livery, “UP” on the aircraft tail, and customized interiors, including Wi-Fi connectivity. The Cessna Citation Excel and XLS jets offer a high level of comfort and amenities including ample room for up to nine passengers, a range of 2,070 nautical miles and one of the largest cabins and baggage compartments in its class. The Textron Aviation service network will provide comprehensive maintenance on the newly added aircraft through various Cessna ProAdvantage programs including PowerAdvantage+ for the engines.
“Through the Wheels Up membership model, the private aviation community now has access to products within two of the strongest product families in the world – Citation business jets and King Air turboprops,” said Scott Ernest, President and CEO of Textron Aviation. “We are confident customers will be well served by the performance and comfort of the Citation Excel and Citation XLS, paired with the travel solutions offered by Wheels Up.”
About Wheels Up
Wheels Up is a revolutionary membership-based private aviation company that greatly reduces the upfront investment needed to fly privately. Created and led by Kenny Dichter, the Founder of Marquis Jet and original innovator of the 25-hour fractional jet card, Wheels Up has identified a need for one company to offer a total private aviation solution. With a modest initiation fee and reasonable annual dues, Wheels Up offers members “mission-appropriate” aircraft, ranging from the King Air 350i to the Global 6000, through partnerships with industry leaders such as Beechcraft, Cessna, Jet Aviation, JetSuite, Heliflite and VistaJet. Wheels Up is developing proprietary cutting-edge booking and rideshare applications, and provides members with unmatched accessibility, flexibility, and the finest personalized service. With an 8,760-hour (referencing the number of hours in a year) culture, Wheels Up membership includes Wheels Down, the ultimate in client entertaining engaging members through exclusive events and opportunities to meet luminaries from the worlds of entertainment, sports, politics and business.
Wheels Up acts as agent for the Wheels Up members, and is not the operator of the program aircraft; FAA licensed and DOT registered air carriers participating in the program will exercise full operational control of the program aircraft. Any aircraft owned by Wheels Up will be dry leased to the operating air carrier to facilitate operations by that carrier. For additional information, please visit www.WheelsUp.com.
About Textron Aviation Inc.
The Textron Aviation segment is the leading general aviation authority and home to the iconic Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker brands which account for more than half of all general aviation aircraft flying. Textron Aviation Inc. includes the businesses of Cessna Aircraft Company and Beechcraft Corporation, bringing together decades of unmatched experience in designing, building and supporting airplanes. It provides the most versatile and comprehensive general aviation product portfolio in the world through five principal lines of business: business jets, general aviation and special mission turboprop aircraft, high performance piston aircraft, military trainer and defense aircraft, and a complete global customer service organization. Its broad range of products include such best-selling aircraft as Citation and Hawker business jets, King Air and Caravan turboprops and T-6 military trainer aircraft, all of which are backed by the industry’s largest global service network. For more information, visit www.textronaviation.com.