Wheels Up Confirms Pilot Layoffs

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Wheels Up has confirmed today that it has laid off a number of pilots effective immediately. Different sources have estimated the number as between 11% and as high as 20%. The company issued a statement to Private Jet Card Comparisons, an online news source that specializes in shared ownership aviation companies and their pricing programs.

The statement read, in part, “As a matter of policy, Wheels Up does not comment on personnel matters out of respect for the privacy of those involved. However, given the release of internal communications, we do feel it is our responsibility to publicly acknowledge the macro industry factors were the largest contributor to our decision. The sharp decline in our pilot attrition rates in the first half of this year, due in part to a reduction of pilot hiring at the commercial airlines and pilots choosing to stay at Wheels Up, created the staffing imbalance that led to today’s actions.”

The statement cited that aligning its pilot roster with the size of its fleet is critical, and “the abnormalities in the industry over these last few months made appropriate staffing forecasting against regular attrition challenging.”

Wheels Up did not immediately return a phone call from AVweb for comment.

Despite a $500 million funding package from Delta Air Lines and a new management team, Wheels Up has continued to report losses, though executives still expect to return to profitability by the end of this year. The company reports it fleet includes around 170 aircraft: 59 Beech King Air turboprops, 43 Cessna Citation X super-midsize jets and 35 Hawker 400XP light jets.

Last week, according to Jet Card Comparisons, Wheels Up reduced daily minimum flight times for its jet aircraft and cut back the number of peak days for its entry-level program customers. Last September, Wheels Up divested its aircraft management division.

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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.

9 COMMENTS

  1. This is starting to look familiar. Another flight company slowly going broke! Too bad for those who got the boot, hopefully they will be able to find work elsewhere quickly.

  2. However, given the release of internal communications, we do feel it is our responsibility to publicly acknowledge the macro industry factors were the largest contributor to our decision.

    Whoever wrote that doesn’t know what it means. “Macro industry factors”, what the sam hill does that mean?

  3. The multi million $ golden parachute the recently departed CEO received could of helped the company to be on better financial footing.

  4. Anyone who took a close look at UPs business model knew it had as much a chance of being successful as Day Jet. What a shame for the unsuspecting.

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