Wheels Up CFO/Interim CEO Gets Salary And Bonus Increases

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Just as financial markets closed yesterday (July 3), Wheels Up filed an amendment to its recent 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Yesterday’s 8-K/A filing revealed that Chief Financial Officer and interim CEO Todd Smith will receive a $150,000 raise in his annual salary. According to the text of the amended filing: “This Amendment to the Initial Form 8-K is being filed to report that on July 3, 2023, the Compensation Committee approved changes to Mr. Smith’s compensation package in recognition of his expanded duties as Interim Chief Executive Officer and principal executive officer.” Smith took on the role of interim CEO in May, replacing Wheels Up founder and chairman Kenny Dichter, who retains a seat on the board of directors.

In addition to his increased salary, Smith’s annual bonus target increased during his tenure as interim CEO to 150 percent of his annual salary from 100 percent “to be paid in a lump sum at the same time and in the same manner as regular annual bonuses are distributed to other similarly situated senior executives of the Company.”

This amended filing comes a week after Wheels Up board member Ravi Thakran was awarded $648,000 annual compensation, plus 50 hours’ flight time in Wheels Up Beech King Air turboprops, according to the website Private Jet Card Comparisons. The website earlier reported that, according to Wheels Up’s 2023 first-quarter financial report last May, though revenue increased $26 million year-over-year to $352 million, net losses increased $12 million year-over-year to $101 million; adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest taxes, depreciation and amortization) was flat year-over-year with a loss of $49 million; and cash and cash equivalents fell from $586 million to $363 million.

The company, which has been plagued by falling stock prices, rumors of bankruptcy and a series of lawsuits filed by shareowners, is expected to file its second-quarter financial report in late July or early August.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds like their plan is to bring the company to its knees sooner rather than later. Flamboyance seems to have been the mantra du jour from day one with this outfit.

  2. One of these days and it may not be long we could find out if Wheels Up’s King Airs can make it to Cape Verde nonstop while loaded with the company’s executives and their piles of cash.

  3. It is pretty disgusting but it is how America works. The payback for America is that these CEOs and board members don’t pay taxes on income, mansions, jets or their foreign registered yachts.

  4. Awesome! Losses of $101 million and we hike the pay and compensation of the executives. What a country!

  5. Capitalism at its finest! Time and again we show the rest of the world that America is a slave to to these money hungry failures. It’s not the immigrants that are ruining the country, it’s the capitalists!

  6. Everyone complains about “participation trophies”, but here we have something even worse: loser trophies. These people are literally getting rewarded for losing money.

  7. Folks, you’re being much too harsh on this C suite team–they ARE making sacrifices by accepting 50 hours compensation in the King Airs instead of the Citations. How tormenting to be relegated to 300 knots versus 450+. Please, some compassion!

  8. I thought in life you got rewarded after achieving defined goals. Apparently the board of directors at Wheels Up cares not about that nor the future of the company as they continue to let executive leadership burn through cash and reward mediocrity. The good-ol-boy network still exists and it’s corporate America….The Wheels Up CEO needs a dose of ACCOUNTABILITY!

  9. Here’s my question; If Smith gets a $150K raise and a 50% bump in his bonus as the INTERIM CEO, when the company finds a new permanent CEO does he have to go back to his old salary and bonus? Doubtful. I think I see what’s causing Wheels Up’s financial problems.

    • To be fair, the filing specifically states the increases apply to the time he is wearing both hats. Not to say that can’t change, however.

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