Wheels Up rescued with $500m in funding

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Delta Air Lines, travel investment firm Certares Management and Knighthead Capital Management have stepped in to rescue troubled private jet firm Wheels Up Experience – parent of cargo charter broker Air Partner.

The deal will see the three companies provide a $400m term loan and a $100m liquidity facility from its largest shareholder Delta in return for a 95% stake in the company.

Broken down further, Delta will provide Wheels Up with $150m in new money-term loans and the $100m liquidity facility.

An additional $150m term loan will be provided under the facility by CK Opportunities. Other unnamed investors will provide the remaining $100m.

The deal remains subject to approvals.

“The partnership will create new opportunities for Wheels Up to drive strategic, operational and financial improvements for its customers in the months and years ahead,” said Delta chief executive Ed Bastian.

“Delta’s unmatched expertise in premium travel, customer loyalty, corporate sales, operational reliability and aircraft maintenance, combined with Certares’ and Knighthead’s experience and global reach, are expected to speed Wheels Up on its path to profitability.”

The private jet market boomed during the Covid pandemic but has since run into difficulties as commercial airlines have restarted operations.

Last week, Delta provided the company with a short-term capital infusion.

In the second quarter of the year, Wheels Up announced a net loss of $161m following on from a $555.5m loss last year.

The company has made job cuts and made management changes to improve its position.

Wheels Up purchased Air Partner at the start of 2022 in deal worth $107m.

Troubled Wheels Up Experience looks to stabilise operations

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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector.After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015.Contact me on [email protected]