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Wheels Up on track for 2016 Europe expansion

Wheels Up chief executive Kenny Dichter said he hopes to have personnel and at least one plane in Europe in 2016.
Wheels Up chief executive Kenny Dichter said he hopes to have personnel and at least one plane in Europe in 2016. The Wichita Eagle

Wheels Up, a major customer for Textron Aviation, expects to have personnel on the ground in Europe by the middle of next year and its first airplane there by the end of next year.

Kenny Dichter, Wheels Up founder and CEO, said during the National Business Aviation Association Convention & Exhibition that the company has named executive vice president John Colucci to oversee the New York-based private aviation membership company’s first overseas expansion.

“I would say John gets on the ground in six months,” Dichter said. “I’d love to have our first airplane delivery (in Europe) in 2016.”

Colucci said there are 55 to 57 cities in Europe that could be served from three potential bases there by Wheels Up’s fleet of 35 Beechcraft King Air 350is and 15 Cessna Citation Excel/XLS business jets.

In 2013 Wheels Up announced an order for 105 King Air 350is, the biggest King Air order in Beechcraft’s history. Dichter said the company will take delivery of five more 350is by the end of the year.

Wheels Up’s Excel/XLS jets are pre-owned, but were also acquired from Textron Aviation.

Dichter also said he expects Wheels Up to end 2015 with 25,000 revenue flight hours and $200 million in revenue. Next year he’s projecting 45,000 flight hours and $300 million in revenue.

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