Wheels Up | September 26, 2023
Wheels Up Experience (NYSE: UP) today announced that it has closed the previously announced investment by Delta Air Lines, Certares Management LLC, Knighthead Capital Management LLC and Cox Enterprises.
The new investment structure combines the experience of Delta, the No. 1 premium airline, with the travel and tourism focus of Certares and turnaround and restructuring experience of Knighthead. It includes an agreement for a $500 million credit facility to Wheels Up, with funds contributed by Delta and CK Wheels LLC, which is co-managed by affiliates of Certares and Knighthead, and Cox. The announcement follows last week's selection of George Mattson as the company's new CEO.
"This investment represents both an important source of capital for Wheels Up to support our strategy for financial stability, future profitability and long-term growth on behalf of our members and customers, as well as a vote of confidence in our path forward from a group of investors with deep experience in the premium travel space," Mattson said. "We look forward to working closely with Delta and our other investors to deliver best-in-class operating performance and an exceptional customer experience which, as we deepen our commercial partnership, will also enable us to provide a one-of-a-kind seamless connection between private and premium commercial travel."
"Wheels Up is an integral part of Delta's portfolio of premium partners, and this deep relationship offers a significant opportunity to deliver compelling benefits to our customers that are unique in the travel space," said Dan Janki, Wheels Up Chairman and Delta's Chief Financial Officer. "This investment and new leadership puts Wheels Up on a strong path to future success."
The credit facility is comprised of a $350 million term loan funded at closing from Delta, CK Wheels LLC and Cox and a $100 million revolving credit facility from Delta. The terms of the credit agreement permit a new lender to provide a $50 million term loan after the closing date, as approved by Delta, Certares, Knighthead and Cox, and it is anticipated this additional funding will close in the near term.
In connection with the closing of the credit facility, the lenders will initially receive newly issued Wheels Up common stock representing 80% of the company's outstanding equity as of the closing of the credit facility, on a fully diluted basis. After approval by Wheels Up's stockholders of an amendment to its certificate of incorporation, the company will issue to the lenders additional new shares such that the lenders will own 95% of the company's outstanding equity as of the closing of the credit facility, on a fully diluted basis.
Wheels Up also announced a new structure for its Board of Directors. Under the new structure, Delta Air Lines will appoint four directors, Certares and Knighthead each will appoint two directors, and Cox will appoint one director. In addition, one company executive will join the Board and two independent directors are expected to remain from the previous Board.
The parties were assisted in the transaction by a number of strategic advisors, including: Davis Polk, Jefferies LLC, Kirkland & Ellis and PJT Partners.
About Wheels Up
Wheels Up is a leading provider of on-demand private aviation in the U.S. and one of the largest private aviation companies in the world. Wheels Up offers a complete global aviation solution with a large, modern, and diverse fleet, backed by an uncompromising commitment to safety and service. Customers can access membership programs, charter, aircraft management services and whole aircraft sales, as well as unique commercial travel benefits through a strategic partnership with Delta Air Lines. Wheels Up also offers freight, safety and security solutions and managed services to individuals, industry, government, and civil organizations.
Wheels Up is guided by the mission to connect private flyers to aircraft, and one another, through an open platform that seamlessly enables life's most important experiences. Powered by a global private aviation marketplace connecting its base of approximately 12,000 members and customers to a network of approximately 1,500 safety-vetted and verified private aircraft, Wheels Up is widening the aperture of private travel for millions of consumers globally. With the Wheels Up mobile app and website, members and customers have the digital convenience to search, book and fly.
Business Wire | September 14, 2023
H2FLY, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Joby Aviation, today announced the successful completion of the world’s first piloted flight of a liquid hydrogen-powered electric aircraft.
H2FLY, acquired by Joby in 2021, continues to lead the industry on the development and testing of hydrogen aviation propulsion systems. The company completed a series of piloted flights with its HY4 demonstrator aircraft, including one that lasted more than three hours, fitted with a hydrogen-electric fuel cell propulsion system and liquid hydrogen that powered it for the entire flight.
The flights demonstrate the viability of using cryogenically-stored liquid hydrogen instead of gaseous hydrogen, which enables significantly lower tank weights and volume, leading to longer range. The successful installation and demonstration of flight with liquid hydrogen is believed to increase the range of H2FLY’s HY4 demonstrator aircraft from 466 mi (750 km) to 932 mi (1500 km), marking a critical step towards the long-term decarbonization of mid- to long-range aviation.
“H2FLY are pioneers in their field, and we’re proud of them achieving this watershed moment in the use of liquid hydrogen to power aircraft,” said JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby Aviation. “In the years to come, battery-electric and hydrogen-electric propulsion systems will enable us to build aircraft that are quieter and make mid- to long-range air travel possible with zero emissions. It’s critical we take action now and invest aggressively in these technologies for the health of our planet and future generations to come.”
The successful flights are the culmination of Project HEAVEN, a European-government-supported consortium assembled to demonstrate the feasibility of using liquid hydrogen in aircraft. The consortium is led by H2FLY and includes the partners Air Liquide, Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies, and Fundación Ayesa.
Following this test flight milestone, H2FLY will increasingly focus on its path to commercialization. In June, H2FLY announced the development of its new fuel cell systems, which will be capable of providing their full power range at altitudes high enough to enable commercial hydrogen-electric aircraft, demonstrating real-world commercial aircraft applications.
Joby Aviation, Inc. is a California-based transportation company developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing air taxi which it intends to operate as part of a fast, quiet, and convenient service in cities around the world.
PR Newswire | October 17, 2023
Eviation Aircraft, a leading manufacturer of all-electric aircraft, today announced that flyVbird, an emerging on-demand regional airline, has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) for 25 Alice aircraft, with options for a further 25.
flyVbird is committed to enhancing connectivity in rural areas where it will use smaller, more accessible airports. The airline is driven by unique algorithms to deliver on-demand air travel to routes passengers want to fly. It plans to secure its own Air Operator Certificate to utilize Alice for decentralized and sustainable travel across Europe, connecting unconnected or underserved communities worldwide and delivering carbon-free, cost effective, convenient air travel.
Leading the Electric Revolution
The nine-seater Alice is the world's first flight-tested all-electric commuter aircraft. Built from a clean-sheet design, the Alice produces zero emissions and costs significantly less to operate per flight hour compared with light jets or regular turboprops. It is powered by two magni650 electric propulsion units developed by magniX, the global industry leader in flight-proven electric propulsion systems.
"The European Union is moving forward with ambitious new rules aimed at decarbonizing the aviation industry," said Eddie Jaisaree, Vice President, Commercial Sales at Eviation. "The Alice is the innovative and beautifully designed aircraft needed to lead aerospace's transition to net zero carbon emissions. We are very pleased to partner with flyVbird in the future of flight."
"The fact that Alice is a zero-carbon, quiet, low operational cost aircraft makes it the perfect solution for flyVbird to deliver clean, on-demand regional travel across Europe into the next decade and beyond," said Anton Lutz, CEO of flyVbird, at the Routes World 2023 Conference in Istanbul. "Through our unique AI-driven approach, we will offer direct alternatives to typical hub-and-spoke operations and Alice will play a critical role."
About Eviation Aircraft
Based in Washington State, U.S., Eviation Aircraft Inc. develops and manufactures electric aircraft to delight operators and passengers with green, cost efficient and convenient regional transportation. Its electric propulsion units, high-energy-density batteries, mission-driven energy management, and innovative airframe are designed from the ground up for electric flight. Please visit us at www.eviation.com.
flyVbird GmbH (formerly flyvirtual.global UG) is an emerging regional airline headquartered in Germany. In lieu of a traditional hub-and-spoke network, flyVbird's airline model is an AI-backed carrier that will use algorithms to schedule flights based on paid bookings. Its focus will be on serving regional airports to offer a faster and more convenient alternative to traditional transport methods.
PR News WIre | August 31, 2023
Firefly Aerospace, Inc., an end-to-end space transportation company, and Millennium Space Systems, a Boeing Company small satellite constellation prime, have entered the hot standby phase for VICTUS NOX, a Tactically Responsive Space mission led by Space Systems Command's (SSC) Space Safari Program Office. The team stands ready for the 24-hour callup and orbit requirements to complete final operations and launch at the first available window.
"Challenging missions like this is where Firefly excels, and we are extremely humbled and proud to provide the U.S. Space Force and the nation with the critical capability to launch on-demand in support of national security," said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace. "Together with our mission partners, we'll be setting a new standard, proving nominal launch operations can be completed in a matter of hours rather than weeks to months."
Millennium and Firefly have entered a six-month hot standby phase and will wait for activation at an intentionally unknown time. During this phase, the U.S. Space Force will give the mission team an alert notification, kicking off a 60-hour window to transport the payload to Vandenberg Space Force Base, conduct fueling operations, and integrate it with Firefly's Alpha payload adaptor.
Space Force officials will then issue Firefly a launch notice with the final orbit requirements. The Firefly team will have 24 hours to update the trajectory and guidance software, encapsulate the payload, transport it to the pad, mate to Alpha, and stand ready to launch at the first available window. Once the payload is deployed in low Earth orbit, Millennium will attempt to fully initialize the space vehicle in less than 48 hours and then begin operations for its Space Domain Awareness (SDA) mission.
"What we're doing with VICTUS NOX has never been done before, and I attribute our success to the dedication and teamwork of our collective team – Millennium, Firefly, and SSC's Space Safari and Rocket Systems Launch Program (RSLP) offices," said Jason Kim, CEO of Millennium Space Systems. "You need to have the willingness to know that there will be changes – whether requirements or processes. That's where the teamwork and close partnerships really came into play. It's about what help is needed to address a challenge – on all sides – and everyone pitching in to support that."
In preparation for the mission, Firefly manufactured and acceptance tested each critical component, engine, and vehicle stage for its Alpha rocket in addition to conducting a static fire to verify all systems operate within flight parameters. Firefly and Millennium also completed multiple rehearsals in preparation for launch, which included packing and delivering a satellite mockup to Firefly's integration facility at Vandenberg Space Force Base to practice all launch operations within the prescribed 24 hours.
"The U.S.'s ability to rapidly respond to on-orbit needs is critical to our national defense, particularly in today's evolving space environment," said Lt. Col. MacKenzie Birchenough, Materiel Leader for Space Safari. "The accelerated build time the team demonstrated for VICTUS NOX, combined with the demanding launch and on-orbit goals, exemplifies our strong commitment to preserving our nation's dominance and ability to freely operate in the space domain."
About Firefly Aerospace
Firefly is an end-to-end space transportation company with launch, lunar, and on-orbit services. As an all-American company headquartered in central Texas, Firefly is focused on delivering responsive, reliable, and affordable space access for government and commercial customers. Firefly's small- to medium-lift launch vehicles, lunar landers, and orbital vehicles provide the space industry with a single source for missions from low Earth orbit to the surface of the Moon and beyond
About Millennium Space Systems
Millennium Space Systems, a Boeing Company, is a small satellite prime, delivering high-performance constellation solutions for National Security Space. Founded in 2001, the company's active production lines and 80% vertical integration enable the rapid delivery of small satellites across missions and orbits – LEO, MEO and GEO.
About Space Systems Command
Space Systems Command (SSC) is the U.S. Space Force's field command responsible for acquiring and delivering resilient war fighting capabilities to protect our nation's strategic advantage in and from space. SSC manages a $15 billion space acquisition budget for the Department of Defense and works in partnership with joint forces, industry, government agencies, academic and allied organizations to accelerate innovation and outpace emerging threats. Our actions today are making the world a better space for tomorrow.