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May 18, 2022

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Wheels Up Readies Rate Hikes After Record Q1 | Business Travel News

Private aviation supplier Wheels Up on Thursday reported record first-quarter revenue, as well as year-over-year increases in active members and live flight legs. The company also will increase its capped rate price and update its fuel surcharges as of June 1, executives said on a Thursday first-quarter earnings call. 

The company did not provide details on the new costs, though initial fuel surcharges went into effect April 9, and the rate increase follows one from December.

First-quarter 2022 revenue increased 24 percent year over year to $325.6 million from $261.7 million, according to Wheels Up. Active members for the quarter were up 26 percent to just over 12,400 from nearly 9,900. Live flight legs increased 15 percent to just over 17,600 from nearly 15,300. Flight revenue per live flight leg was up 8 percent to $13,410. The company also reported a net loss of $89 million compared with a Q1 2021 loss of $32.2 million. 

“We saw pickup in membership sales following the lifting of the flight moratorium in February,” Wheels Up CFO Eric Jacobs said. The company had implemented a 90-day moratorium on new members to “protect service levels for our existing customers,” but was able to ease those restrictions earlier than expected. “We continue to see strong leisure demand and a pick-up in business and international travel.” 

The company also reported that it is “ahead of plan on hiring new pilots,” according to an earnings presentation, and that it had hired more than 250 pilots since November, Wheels Up president Vinayak Hegde said during the call. It also closed its acquisition of Air Partner on April 1 and launched an updated version of its mobile app during the same month. 

Further, Wheels Up chairman and CEO Kenny Dichter announced that beginning in June, “we will fully offset the carbon emissions of our member and customer plans.” He added that the company also is looking for other ways to reduce its operations impact on the environment and will share details “as they develop.”

In addition, Jacobs will leave his position at Wheels Up effective May 18 but will act as an advisor to the company for one year, Dichter said. Eric Cabezas, SVP of finance, will serve as interim CFO and principal accounting officer upon Jacobs’ departure, according to the company.

RELATED: Wheels Up Q4 performance