Q&A: Bill Allard Talks Wheels Up's Soaring Success

Jessica Laniewski | April 30, 2015 | Lifestyle

How is Wheels Up changing the private aviation industry?

Bill Allard is the co-founder of Wheels Up.

Membership-based Wheels Up continues to revolutionize the private flying industry by offering competitive packages to individuals, families, and corporations. We chat with co-founder Bill Allard about the brand’s innovative ride sharing services and a new private club at Fenway Park.

How does Wheels Up differentiate itself from other private aviation companies in terms of membership rates?
BILL ALLARD: Right now there are two different memberships: individual membership has an initiation fee of $15,750 with annual dues of $7,250 starting the second year, and corporate membership has a $25,000 initiation fee with $10,000 annual dues after the first year. A lot of people in the States were frustrated because there were a lot of additional fees at the end. We want to be totally transparent. What we quote you is what you pay.

How has Wheels Up already changed the face of flying?
BA: We are seeing people convert from commercial to private aviation with us. People that were unsure beforehand are now the people saving for a membership. You don’t have to commit to a certain amount of hours or plane type, and we really match the plane to your specific trip profile. We incorporate technology in a really disruptive way. We are creating an app where you can post empty seats so you can fly with others. We did this for the Kentucky Derby. We are seeing more Wheels Up clients doing business together because of the ride sharing.

You just inked an enviable partnership with the Red Sox for the new Wheels Up Club. How important is that visibility?
BA: [It] will get our name out there even more and have people asking about Wheels Up. There are Wheels Up information booths set up at the private club at Fenway Park, but not in an intrusive way. It has been really powerful for us.

You have a large client base in New England. Where else are you seeing people ask for Wheels Up?
BA: Southeast, Southwest, and Northeast are important areas for Wheels Up. When we went out to raise money as a startup, we raised $1 million in debt on the equity side and needed to raise $55 million in equity, and we thought it would be powerful to go to high net worth individuals throughout the country from Silicon Valley to Boston. We closed at $75 million. We have a great investor base.

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