US-based Wheels Up has acquired Gama Aviation, dba Gama Aviation Signature, whose aircraft management and charter businesses complement the recent deal with Delta Air Lines and the acquisitions of Delta Private Jets, Travel Management Company and Avianis Systems. The Delta partnership grew the Wheels Up fleet to more than 190 aircraft and over 8,000 members and customers; the latest purchase takes its owned and managed fleet to over 300 aircraft.
“This transaction supports our long term vision for the future of Wheels Up, and as we continue to build the fleet and offer aircraft management services, we are uniquely positioned in the market with a full ecosystem for all private aviation needs,” says founder and CEO Kenny Dichter. “We welcome Gama and its pilots into our Wheels Up family as a natural step based on the successful history of our two companies.”
Gama Aviation Signature will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Wheels Up and continue to provide the same service to existing aircraft management and charter customers out of its current location in Shelton, Connecticut. Additionally, Wheels Up is committed to providing ongoing career opportunities for Gama employees who deliver world-class private travel, safety and service.
“We are thrilled to officially join Wheels Up and will continue to provide its members with industry-leading safety and service,” adds Game Aviation president and CEO Tom Connelly. “Kenny and his team have created a powerful and trusted brand that we are excited to be a part of.”
Gama Aviation Signature is owned 49 per cent by GB Aviation Holdings, a joint venture between the group and Signature Aviation, with the remaining 51 per cent held by the group's US partners.
Gama Aviation will receive consideration of USD$33 million.
As part of the transaction, GB Aviation Holdings has licensed the continued use of the Gama Aviation Signature brand for up to two years. The group has additionally entered into a five year non-compete agreement with Wheels Up in respect of its FAA Part 135 charter operations in the USA.
The Gama group intends to use the proceeds from the sale of its US associate to continue to execute its strategic objectives through its organic and acquisitive growth investments. Chief executive Marwan Khalek explains: “Strategically divesting minority investments simplifies our corporate and financial structure, allowing us to further reinvest in growing the group's wholly owned subsidiaries in line with our strategic objectives.”