Wheels Up Experience Inc. has become the first private aviation company to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The company has announced that it has officially closed its transaction with Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle, a special purpose acquisition company. Its common stock will trade on the NYSE under the symbol ‘UP’. The business combination was approved by Aspirational shareholders on 12 July and the transaction closed on 13 July.
The company's strategy is built upon and focuses on creating and growing an accessible marketplace for private aviation while elevating the overall travel experience both in the air and on the ground. Today's transaction positions Wheels Up as it continues to accelerate marketplace development in response to growing global demand and adoption of private flying. The company will also invest in adjacent lifestyle and consumer services to complement its already robust membership offerings. Over the course of the last eight years, Wheels Up has delivered growth through customer acquisition, retention, strategic M&A and organic demand. The company recently announced several key partnerships adding to its bespoke member benefits platform with iconic lifestyle brands, including American Express, Porsche and Belmond, among others.
In the first quarter of 2021, Wheels Up had record year-over-year revenue growth of 68 per cent to US$ 261.7 million and a 56 per cent increase in active members. Wheels Up is the only company in the industry to offer a comprehensive total aviation solution including membership programmes, on-demand private flights across all cabin categories, aircraft management, whole aircraft sales and corporate solutions. Members also have access to commercial aviation travel benefits through the Wheels Up strategic partnership with Delta Air Lines.
The capital raised will accelerate investment in Wheels Up's technology and product offerings, driving the company's core global growth strategies and expansion of the Wheels Up Marketplace with membership and non-membership options.
“Today is a special milestone for Wheels Up,” says founder and CEO Kenny Dichter. “Since our 2013 launch, it has been our mission to create a dynamic platform to democratise private aviation, making it possible for significantly more people to experience private flying. We are honoured to be a public company on the NYSE, and we look forward to taking our disruptive marketplace global.”
Aspirational chairman and CEO Ravi Thakran adds: “Aspirational's purpose was always to support a premium brand that delivers a compelling vision and lifestyle experience for today's consumer. We are thrilled for Wheels Up as it expands globally with the innovative Wheels Up Marketplace."
Wheels Up has also entered into a new partnership with the US National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) providing cross-platform experiences and exclusive access for members of both organisations. The initiative also focuses on the NFLPA Community MVP programme, which recognises one player each week during the regular season who has demonstrated a commitment to making a positive impact in his hometown or team city. The weekly Community MVP winners become eligible for the NFLPA Alan Page Community (APC) Award, which is the highest honour that the NFLPA can bestow upon a player.
As part of the collaboration, for every Core membership sold in connection with this partnership, Wheels Up will donate $1,000 to the NFLPA Community MVP programme, which distributes funds to the foundation or charity of choice of each weekly Community MVP winner. Wheels Up will also participate in the NFLPA's externship programme to provide professional opportunities and mentorship in areas NFL players may want to pursue after their playing career.