Aviation

Wheels Up won’t be switching to the Cessna Denali, CEO says

Wheels Up CEO Kenny Dichter said the company could end up having 150 Beechcraft King Airs in the next five years.
Wheels Up CEO Kenny Dichter said the company could end up having 150 Beechcraft King Airs in the next five years. The Wichita Eagle

Wheels Up has taken delivery of 55 Beechcraft King Air 350is, and the private aviation membership company expects that number to more than double or triple in the next five years.

That’s according to Wheels Up founder and CEO Kenny Dichter, who also announced on the eve of the National Business Aviation Association Convention here that the company has reached 3,000 full members.

“We could see ourselves taking 125 to 150 (King Airs) in the next three to five years,” Dichter said on Monday. “That’s our goal.”

The New York-based company distinguished itself three years ago by announcing the single-largest orders of King Airs in the history of the Wichita-built twin turboprop.

With Textron Aviation’s announcement to build the Cessna Denali single-engine turboprop earlier this year, Dichter said Wheels Up likely won’t be ordering any of those airplanes.

“I think our membership is looking for the two engines, two pilots,” he said in an interview after the company’s news conference Monday morning.

Wheels Up founder and CEO talks about why his company chose the Beechcraft King Air for its fleet. Pictured with Dichter are, from left, wife Shoshana and daughters Harley and Phoebe. Video by Jerry Siebenmark / Aug. 28, 2015)

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark

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