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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
________________
FORM 10-K
________________
[Mark One]
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021
or
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from ____________ to ____________
Commission File Number: 001-04321
WHEELS UP EXPERIENCE INC.
(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)
Delaware
(State or Other Jurisdiction of Incorporation or Organization)
95-1557048
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)


601 West 26th Street, Suite 900,
New York, New York
 (Address of Principal Executive Offices)
10001
(Zip Code)
Registrant’s Telephone Number, Including Area Code: (212) 257-5252

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Trading Symbol(s)
Name of each exchange on which registered
Class A common stock, $0.0001 par value per shareUPNew York Stock Exchange
Redeemable warrants, each whole warrant exercisable for one share of Class A common stock at an exercise price of $11.50UP WSNew York Stock Exchange
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.   Yes     No  

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.   Yes     No  
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports) and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.   Yes     No  
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulations S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).   Yes      No  
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filerAccelerated filer
Non-accelerated filerSmaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.  
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).   Yes     No  
As of March 4, 2022, 244,152,189 shares of Class A common stock, $0.0001 par value per share, were issued and outstanding.





INTRODUCTORY NOTE
On July 13, 2021 (the “Closing Date”), we consummated the transactions contemplated by the Agreement and Plan of Merger with Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corp. (“Aspirational”), a blank check company, dated as of February 1, 2021, as amended on May 6, 2021, (the “Business Combination”) and, in connection therewith:
Aspirational merged with and into us, whereby we survived the merger and became the successor issuer to Aspirational;
we changed our name to “Wheels Up Experience Inc.”;
we acquired Wheels Up Partners Holdings LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (“WUP”);
Aspirational’s publicly traded units separated into their components of publicly traded Aspirational Class A common stock and Aspirational public warrants, and each outstanding share of Aspirational Class A common stock was exchanged, on a one-for-one basis, for shares of Wheels Up Class A common stock and all of Aspirational’s outstanding warrants became warrants to acquire shares of Wheels Up Class A common stock.
Upon consummation of the preceding transactions:
WUP became a wholly owned subsidiary of Wheels Up Experience Inc.; and
beginning July 14, 2021, our shares of Class A common stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “UP” and our warrants traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “UP WS”.
In addition, Aspirational entered into subscription agreements with certain investors (the “PIPE Investors”), whereby Aspirational issued 55,000,000 shares of common stock at a price of $10.00 per share (the “PIPE Shares”) for an aggregate purchase price of $550 million (the “PIPE Investment”), which closed simultaneously with the consummation of the Business Combination.
On the Closing Date, we received approximately $656.3 million in gross proceeds. In addition, upon closing of the Business Combination, all outstanding WUP common interests and WUP preferred interests (including WUP restricted interests), as well as shares underlying WUP options, were converted into 190.0 million shares of Class A common stock and rolled over into the combined business. In addition, there were 29.0 million outstanding WUP profits interests recapitalized in connection with the Business Combination that can be exchanged on a value-for-value basis for Class A common stock subject to vesting.
As part of the Business Combination, existing holders of WUP equity, including holders of profits interests and restricted interests, but excluding holders of stock options, have the right to receive up to an aggregate of 9,000,000 additional shares of Class A common stock in three equal tranches, which are issuable upon the achievement of Class A common stock share price thresholds of $12.50, $15.00 and $17.50 for any 20 trading days within a period of 30 consecutive trading days within five years of the Closing Date, respectively (the “Earnout Shares”).
References in this Annual Report on Form 10-K (“Annual Report”) to “Wheels Up”, the “Company”, “we”, “us”, or "our" are to Wheels Up Experience Inc., a Delaware corporation, and its subsidiaries.





WHEELS UP EXPERIENCE INC.
FORM 10-K

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
PART II.



CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report contains certain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other important factors, many of which are outside Wheels Up’s control, that could cause actual results to differ materially from the results discussed in the forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the expectations, hopes, beliefs, intentions or strategies of Wheels Up Experience Inc. regarding the future including, without limitation, statements regarding: (i) the size, demands and growth potential of the markets for Wheels Up’s products and services and Wheels Up’s ability to serve those markets, (ii) the degree of market acceptance and adoption of Wheels Up’s products and services, (iii) Wheels Up’s ability to develop innovative products and services and compete with other companies engaged in the private aviation industry and (iv) Wheels Up’s ability to attract and retain customers. In addition, any statements that refer to projections, forecasts, or other characterizations of future events or circumstances, including any underlying assumptions, are forward-looking statements. The words “anticipate,” “believe,” continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “possible,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “should,” “strive,” “would” and similar expressions may identify forward-looking statements, but the absence of these words does not mean that statement is not forward-looking. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including those described in the “Risk Factors.” Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks and uncertainties arise from time to time, and it is impossible for us to predict these events or how they may affect us. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance upon any forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date made, and Wheels Up undertakes no obligation to update or revise the forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, changes in expectations, future events or otherwise. This Annual Report identifies and address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events and results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements, including those set forth in Part I, Item 1A. ― “Risk Factors” and Part II, Item 7 ― “Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” as well as those set forth under the caption, “Risk Factors Summary” below. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements. Except as required by law, we do not intend to update any of these forward-looking statements after the date of this Annual Report or to conform these statements to actual results or revised expectations.
RISK FACTORS SUMMARY
Our business is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties that represent challenges that we face in connection with the successful implementation of our strategy and growth of our business. The occurrence of one or more of the events or circumstances described in this section alone or in combination with other events or circumstances, may adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Such risks include, but are not limited to:
We may not be able to successfully implement our growth strategies.
We have a limited operating history and history of net losses, and we anticipate that we will experience net losses for the foreseeable future.
Our operating results are expected to be difficult to predict based on a number of factors that also will affect our long-term performance.
We may not be able to grow our complementary products and service offerings through opportunistic acquisitions or otherwise as part of our growth strategy. Any failure to adequately integrate past and future acquisitions into our business could have a material adverse effect on us.
We are exposed to the risk of a decrease in demand for private aviation services.
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The outbreak and global spread of COVID-19 has adversely impacted certain aspects of our business. The duration and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, and similar public health threats that we may face in the future, could result in additional adverse effects on our business, operating results, including without limitation Adjusted Contribution Margin, financial condition and liquidity.
We are subject to certain restrictions on our business as a result of our participation in governmental programs under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”).
Delta may have the right to terminate its commercial agreements with us.
The supply of pilots to the airline industry is limited and may negatively affect our operations and financial condition. Increases in our labor costs, which constitute a substantial portion of our total operating costs, may adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We may be subject to unionization, work stoppages, slowdowns or increased labor costs and the unionization of our pilots and inflight crewmembers could result in increased labor costs.
Significant increases in fuel costs could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations, including without limitation Adjusted Contribution Margin.
Some of our business is dependent on our third-party operators to provide flights for our customers. If such third-party operators do not perform adequately or terminate their relationships with us, our costs may increase and our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.
If our efforts to continue to build our strong brand identity and improve member satisfaction and loyalty are not successful, we may not be able to attract or retain members, and our operating results may be adversely affected.
Any failure to offer high-quality customer support may harm our relationships with our customers and could adversely affect our reputation, brand, business, financial condition and results of operations.
If we are unable to adequately protect our intellectual property interests or are found to be infringing on intellectual property interests of others, we may incur significant expense and our business may be adversely affected.
A delay or failure to identify and devise, invest in and implement certain important technology, business, and other initiatives could have a material impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
A failure in our technology or breaches of the security of our information technology infrastructure may adversely affect our business and financial condition and disrupt our customers’, suppliers’, third-party vendors’ and aircraft providers’ businesses.
Our obligations in connection with our contractual obligations could impair our liquidity and thereby harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Our ability to obtain financing or access capital markets may be limited.
We could suffer losses and adverse publicity stemming from any accident involving aircraft models operated by us or third-parties.
Terrorist activities or warnings have dramatically impacted the aviation industry and will likely continue to do so.
We are subject to significant governmental regulation and changes in government regulations imposing additional requirements and restrictions on our operations could increase our operating costs and result in service delays and disruptions.
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We are subject to various environmental and noise laws and regulations, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Our Organizational Documents include provisions limiting voting by non-U.S. Citizens.
PART I.

Item 1. BUSINESS
Overview of Our Company
Wheels Up is the leading provider of “on demand” private aviation in the U.S. and one of the largest private aviation companies in the world. Our mission is to connect flyers to private aircraft — and one another — to deliver exceptional, personalized experiences.
Wheels Up is pioneering data and technology-driven solutions that connect consumers to safety-vetted and verified private aircraft. Our offerings consist of a suite of products and services, that include multi-tiered membership programs, on-demand flights across all private aircraft cabin categories, aircraft management, retail and wholesale charter, whole aircraft acquisitions and sales, corporate flight solutions, special missions, signature events and experiences, and commercial travel benefits through our strategic partnership with Delta Air Lines, Inc. (“Delta”). We believe our diversified marketplace platform offers a solution for market participants, from aircraft owners and operators to individual and corporate flyers across a wide range of flight needs.
We are focused on making private aviation more accessible and significantly expand our total addressable market. We believe a user-friendly, transparent “search, book and fly” digital experience will remove friction points for new entrants to private aviation as well as appeal to those who currently use more analog and opaque competitive options. We also believe that many of these customers, once exposed to the Wheels Up experience and brand ecosystem, will, over time, become an important part of our member community. Our members are expected to be a critical component of our business and brand, and we remain committed to continuing to deliver for them on our promise of value, service and experience.
Our Strategic Outlook
We have looked to take advantage of our opportunities by elevating the following priorities:
Difficult to Replicate Platform
The investments we have made since our inception in our brand, fleet, service and technology, including through our recent acquisitions, have resulted in a comprehensive platform that we believe is unmatched and would take years and significant investment of capital to replicate in its scale and breadth of offering.
Aspirational Lifestyle Brand
We have built an industry-leading brand that creates broad consumer awareness, attracts new customers and allows us to generate deep engagement with our current members and non-member flyers. Our marketing strategy utilizes a variety of owned, earned and paid media channels. We attempt to target our marketing to consumers who have reasonably predictable demographic or lifestyle attributes similar to those of our current members that are indicative of potential or current private flyers. We utilize targeted, digital marketing to reach new customers and drive awareness. In addition to our targeted marketing efforts, we also invest in certain marketing opportunities that we believe provide high visibility and enable us to connect our brand to programs and events popular with our target customers, with a goal of creating a “halo effect” on the Wheels Up brand. Examples of this include our sponsorship of American Pharaoh and Justified during each of their Triple Crown winning runs at the Belmont Stakes, our activation with ESPN’s College GameDay each weekend during the college football season and our sponsorships of each of the Capital One’s “The Match” golf tournaments. Our brand is enhanced through partnerships with over 100 brand ambassadors, including athletes, entertainers and musicians.
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Wheels Up provides its members with a lifestyle program that enhances the member experience beyond our core aviation offerings. Our events include celebrations around popular sports and cultural events, as well as more intimate gatherings hosted by our Wheels Up Ambassadors. Popular examples of Wheels Down events include our members-only hospitality house in Augusta, Georgia during the week of The Masters® golf championship, our Super Saturday Tailgate before the Super Bowl® and our pop-up celebration during Art Basel®, among many others. Partnerships with certain of the world’s top lifestyle brands provide our members with benefits and special offers in the areas of fashion, travel, leisure, fitness and more. Core and Business members also receive complimentary access to a full-service concierge through our partnership with Four HundredTM, and a complimentary year of membership in Inspirato®, a subscription-based luxury vacation platform. During the second quarter of 2021, we also launched a partnership with American Express as the exclusive private jet partner for the new American Express Premium Private Jet Program for all Platinum® Card Members.
Proprietary Technology, Algorithms and Data Ecosystem
In an industry that historically used intuition and basic industry-wide data to drive strategy and decision-making, we are moving from intuition to algorithm. Technology and data science will be the foundation of all of our operations and strategic decision making. We have invested significantly in extending our technology platform to support a growing end-to-end marketplace that makes it easy to search, book and fly. Our marketplace platform comprises three main elements: intuitive digital front-end interfaces, a middle tier supported by data-driven optimization and pricing algorithms, and a back-end featuring a comprehensive flight operations platform, with connectivity to a network of third-party operators, supported by UP FMS. Each of the elements of our marketplace platform will rely upon and fuel a powerful data ecosystem containing data generated from within our systems, as well as from external industry sources.
Strategic Relationship with Delta
In January 2020, we entered into a long-term Commercial Cooperation Agreement (as amended, the “CCA”) with Delta. We have seen this relationship drive significant value through certain strategic initiatives, co-marketing efforts and the creation of an array of new products and valuable features for existing and prospective customers. Delta is also a significant minority stockholder in Wheels Up and Delta has the right to designate two members of the Wheels Up board of directors (the “Board”). The participation of Delta on our Board adds tremendous strength and breadth of experience, and industry expertise, to our leadership team.
Since May 2019, we have completed multiple strategic transactions to accelerate our marketplace strategy of making private aviation more accessible.
Scaling our “Asset-Right” Fleet of Aircraft — We expanded the breadth and depth of our fleet with the addition of more than 240 aircraft across all cabin class categories, including approximately 150 managed aircraft and the largest floating fleets of Light jets and Citation X’s in North America.
Broadening and Streamlining our Capabilities — We acquired direct control over our owned and leased fleet operations with a nationwide footprint, added in-house maintenance capabilities, including heavy maintenance, and diversified our operations with the addition of aircraft management, wholesale flight operations and special mission capabilities.
Driving Additional Customer Demand — We added thousands of flyers to our platform, including retail, corporate and wholesale customers. Additionally, our strategic relationship with Delta provides exposure to high-value Delta individual and corporate customers through co-marketing products, features and benefits.
Adding Advanced Proprietary Technology — The Avianis Systems LLC (“Avianis”) cloud-based flight management system (renamed “UP FMS”) we acquired is currently utilized by approximately 100 aircraft owners/operators, with close to 2,000 aircraft on the system. As the system begins to facilitate fleet optimization and provides access to Wheels Up demand, we expect UP FMS to attract more owners/operators, and thus aircraft, to our marketplace.
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Our Business Model
While we offer numerous products and services to our customers and industry partners, we generate revenue within four main categories:
Membership Revenue — We generate membership revenue from initiation and annual renewal fees across our Connect, Core and Business membership tiers. We believe this membership revenue is highly visible and largely recurring in nature.
Flight Revenue — Flight revenue is generated by both member and non-member usage. Non-members include wholesale, Jet Card customers and users of the Wheels Up mobile app.
Aircraft Management Revenue — Aircraft management revenue consists of monthly management fees charged to aircraft owners, recovery of owner incurred expenses, including maintenance coordination, cabin crew and pilots, and recharging of certain incurred aircraft operating costs such as maintenance, fuel, landing fees and parking. We pass recovery and recharge amounts back to owners at either cost or a predetermined margin.
Other Revenue — Other revenue consists of software subscription fees, third-party maintenance, repair and operations (“MRO”) revenue, fixed-based operator (“FBO”) revenue, whole aircraft acquisitions and sales related revenue where we are the broker, fees from sponsorships or partnerships and special missions revenue including government, defense, emergency and medical transport.
Membership Model
We provide private aviation services through our innovative membership program, offering three membership tiers — Connect, Core and Business — which are collectively designed to address a spectrum of private aviation consumers from those with occasional usage to the most frequent of flyers. Each program requires members to pay an initiation fee and annual dues and provides access to one of the world’s largest combined fleets of owned, leased, managed and third-party aircraft. Our membership model offers a simplified on-ramp to private flying with less complexity and lower up-front cost compared to traditional competitive private aviation programs.
Connect Membership
Our Connect membership is a relatively low-barrier-to-entry membership tier. The Connect membership offers variable dynamic pricing on a per trip basis and is designed for the consumer with less frequent needs or more flexibility in their schedule.
Core Membership
Our Core membership is designed for private flyers who place a premium on the convenience and flexibility of guaranteed aircraft availability on all aircraft types on short notice, want price protection through capped hourly rates on the busiest industry days and want to participate in an enhanced lifestyle program of events, experiences and member benefits.
Business Membership
Our Business membership is designed to serve a broad spectrum of demands from our Business members, including those for whom we are the primary provider of private flights, and others for whom we may be a supplementary solution to their own aircraft operations. The flexibility on the types of aircraft and routes we offer, allow us to optimize the missions of our members in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As with Core members, Business members receive guaranteed aircraft availability on all aircraft types on short notice and price protection through capped hourly rates on the busiest industry days.
In addition to their initiation fee and annual dues, members pay for their flights based on a fixed quoted amount at time of booking. Depending on membership type and method of payment, the cost of a flight is generally either dynamically priced by our proprietary pricing engine, manually priced, or based on a capped hourly rate that
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provides qualifying members with price protection on our busiest, high demand days. For trips that are charged based on a capped hourly rate, the cost of the trip is calculated by multiplying the applicable capped hourly rate (based on cabin class) by the estimated flight and taxi time with minimum flight hours for each cabin class.
Prepayment for Flights — Fund Programs and Connect Funds
Core and Business members can prepay for future flights with the purchase of a Fund Program. A Fund Program is a pre-purchased amount of dollar-denominated credits that can be applied to future costs incurred by members, including flight services, annual dues, and other incidental costs such as catering and ground transportation. We offer a similar pre-payment option to our Connect members, called Connect Funds.
Fund Programs afford members with preferential terms and conditions that may include greater aircraft availability, access across cabin class categories, extended capped rate price protection and other member benefits such as Delta Medallion® status.
Non-Member Flyers
Non-member flyers can sign up, ask questions, shop and book charter flights completely digitally using the Wheels Up mobile app. These flyers are not required to purchase a membership but may pay additional transaction fees not applicable to members. They also do not receive membership benefits. In addition, non-member flyers do not have the same aircraft availability guarantees as members and flights are priced dynamically.
Wholesale Customers
In addition to our retail offerings, we provide wholesale charter services to customers such as charter flight brokers and third-party operators. Our wholesale customers typically pay us an agreed fixed rate for a flight, which varies based on factors such as the aircraft type and date of the flight, and in turn sell the flight to their own retail customers.
Our Fleet
Through targeted capital investments, cultivation of third-party operator relationships and recent transactions, we have aggregated a large and diverse fleet of owned, leased, managed and third-party operator aircraft.
Wheels Up Owned and Leased Aircraft (“1P Fleet”)
As of December 31, 2021, we have over 180 owned and long-term leased aircraft in our fleet, including 86 Turboprops, 30 Light jets, 16 Midsize jets, 49 Super-Midsize jets and 3 Large Cabin jets. Of our owned and leased aircraft, 72 King Air 350i twin turboprops, 1 Hawker 400XP Light jet, 15 Citation Excel/XLS Midsize jets and 8 Citation X Super-Midsize jets are painted in blue and white Wheels Up livery with the UP insignia painted on the tail.
Our owned and leased aircraft operate as a “floating fleet,” meaning that they do not return to a home base. We believe this allows us to keep our aircraft positioned to most efficiently address our member flight requests, ensuring broad geographic coverage with the fleet and eliminating costly repositioning flights. Lower repositioning costs can provide Wheels Up with a meaningful cost advantage on one-way and multi-city itineraries.
Managed Aircraft (“2P Fleet”)
Our managed fleet is comprised of approximately 150 aircraft under our management, including Light, Midsize, Super-Midsize and Large Cabin jets. Under the terms of our management agreements, managed fleet aircraft may generally be used to fulfill Wheels Up member and non-member flights in addition to use by the aircraft owners. Aircraft owners typically pay us a monthly management fee for services, including pilot hiring, flight operations, aircraft maintenance management and other administrative services. With respect to the use of these aircraft to fulfill member flights, the owner of the aircraft receives either a revenue share or a fixed hourly rate for all hours as payment.
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Our managed aircraft each have a designated home base at airports across the country depending on the location preferred by the aircraft owner. After completing a flight, these aircraft return to their home base or are positioned to another location for their next revenue flight.
Third Party Network Aircraft (“3P Fleet”)
We have access to over 1,200 aircraft in all private aircraft cabin classes through our network of safety vetted and verified third-party operators. To qualify to participate in the Wheels Up program, aircraft operators must satisfy our rigorous and stringent safety standards for aircraft, crew and operations. To become approved for use, the operator must complete a three-step assessment process that culminates with an on-site assessment to verify compliance with our standards. Additionally, the approved operator is subject to recurring on-site assessments every two years. As a final step, we verify compliance with our crew and aircraft standards using a safety database system for every flight. Under the terms of our agreements with approved third-party operators, they provide service to members and non-member flyers subject to continued compliance with our flight standards. We contract with operators to participate in our network for periods ranging from a single flight up to three years with compensation to the operator based on the cabin class or other unique characteristics of the aircraft.
Seasonality
Our results of operations for any specific period are not necessarily indicative of those for an entire year since the private aviation industry is subject to seasonal fluctuations and general economic conditions. Our operations are typically favorably affected by increased utilization of our aircraft in the summer months.
Operations
Flight Operations
Our Flight Operations teams operate nationwide and are primarily based out of Broomfield, Colorado; Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (“CVG”); Columbus, Ohio; Elkhart, Indiana; Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (“FLL”); and Shelton, Connecticut.
Air Carrier Operations
Wheels Up provides its passenger air carrier services through five Part 135 certificates across our consolidated subsidiaries.
Gama Aviation LLC (“Gama”) is a Part 135 operator, providing flight services through three Part 135 certificates. Gama is generally the Part 135 operator for Wheels Up branded aircraft, operates one of the largest fleets of managed business jets in the U.S. and provides aircraft management services, private aircraft charter services, and maintenance support to customers and partners nationwide.
Mountain Aviation, LLC (“Mountain Aviation”) has a primary operating base at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport and operational bases in Alaska, Idaho, Texas, Wisconsin and New Jersey. It is a Part 135 operator and additionally holds a Part 145 repair station certificate. It provides private aircraft charter, aircraft management, and special mission services, including International Long-Range operations, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations, airdrop and low-cost, low-altitude operations, medevac/casevac and domestic flight operations.
Travel Management Company, LLC (“TMC”) was the largest wholesale-focused Part 135 operator of light jets in the U.S. when it was acquired in 2019. TMC’s wholesale fleet supported channel partners and businesses, including numerous third-party air carriers, across the private aviation industry, including Wheels Up. TMC was merged into WUPJ during 2021, with the last aircraft placed onto WUPJ’s certificate in April 2021. As such, TMC no longer provides passenger air carrier services.
Wheels Up Private Jets LLC (“WUPJ”) is a Part 135 operator and additionally holds a Part 145 repair station certificate. WUPJ provides aircraft management services, private aircraft charter services, charter membership
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programs, FBO and MRO services. It operates tech service centers at CVG and FLL, which provide comprehensive MRO facilities and services for aircraft operated by Wheels Up’s consolidated subsidiaries and third-parties.
Fuel
Our operations are impacted by changes in the price and availability of aircraft fuel. We have pricing agreements with various fuel providers located across the U.S., pursuant to which we receive agreed upon pricing for fuel and handling/facility fees at each location. We are currently able to obtain adequate supplies of aircraft fuel but sustainable aircraft fuel is generally more difficult to obtain.
Sales and Account Management
We have developed a sales organization to capitalize on the various lead generation efforts and customer acquisition channels of our business. Our sales organization includes the following teams: sales operations, sales directors, centralized inside sales, field sales, strategic enterprise sales, aircraft management sales, whole aircraft sales, corporate sales and charter sales.
We also have a Wheels Up account management team that provides regular contact for our members and educates members on the benefits of Wheels Up membership. Account managers serve as dedicated private aviation consultants for members with respect to evaluating options for specific flights and their overall Wheels Up relationship. In this capacity, our account management team plays a material role in driving membership renewals and the purchase of Fund Programs. This team also assists members in activating their Delta and other partner benefits.
With respect to our aircraft management business, we have a dedicated account management team that is responsible for the day-to-day management of our managed aircraft accounts and owner relationships.
Member Experience
Retention of our existing members is essential to the growth of our business. We drive retention by taking a holistic view of the member journey, from onboarding through a member’s flight and extending to each and every moment of member engagement thereafter. We believe each of these touchpoints is an essential element of the overall member experience. Our member experience group, working cross-functionally across our organization, is tasked with monitoring member engagement and ensuring high member satisfaction and low churn.
Safety
Each and every day, our passengers trust us with their lives, and it is paramount that we consistently reinforce this trust with our actions and words. This begins with our uncompromising commitment to safety as our number one priority.
Safety is a cornerstone of our culture. We view compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) regulations as a minimum baseline for our commitment to safety. We go beyond FAA minimum requirements by setting higher safety standards in areas of pilot experience, certification (licensing), training, safety programs and many others.
Wheels Up has implemented Safety Management Systems (“SMS”), that go beyond FAA regulatory requirements, across our operating certificates. SMS is a means to identify hazards, mitigate the risk associated with those hazards, collect safety data and act on that data to improve the safety of the operation. Each SMS is managed by a Director of Safety and a team of dedicated professionals trained on the elements of SMS. A key component of our SMS is the Aviation Safety Action Program (“ASAP”). ASAP is a non-punitive safety program that enables employees such as pilots, maintenance technicians and dispatchers to report safety related events for review by Wheels Up and the FAA with the purpose of implementing corrective actions. Additional non-punitive safety reporting programs are in place for employees that are not covered by an ASAP.
In addition to our internal safety management efforts, the Wheels Up operating entities are voluntary participants in audits from a number of third-party safety organizations, including the Air Charter Safety
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Foundation, Wyvern, ARGUS, IS-BAO and independent audits by some of our corporate clients. These audits are opportunities to have outside experts review and contribute to the continuous improvement of our SMS.
Our Pilots
Every Wheels Up flight is under the command of two captain-rated pilots that meet our own training and flight-hour requirements, which are in excess of the FAA’s requirements and training criteria as outlined in the FAA regulations. Each pilot is required to hold current FAA Airline Transport Pilot and First-Class Medical Certificates and is required to be FAA Pilot-in-Command Type-Rated in the aircraft they fly.
Our pilot selection process screens all candidates for background, motivation and safety record. This screening process includes in-person technical interviews and written examinations, as well as a flight simulator assessment. Our pilots must also complete mandatory advanced aircraft ground and flight training in a full-motion simulator, as well as recurring training.
We have entered into agreements with multiple, industry leading third-party suppliers to provide factory authorized training for our pilots. These agreements provide training availability to Wheels Up throughout the year for both initial and recurrent pilot training in exchange for a fixed price per training slot.
Aircraft Maintenance and Repairs
We maintain, service and repair our owned, leased and managed aircraft to ensure the safety of our passengers and to keep the FAA airworthiness certificate of each aircraft in good standing at all times. Aircraft maintenance and repairs consists of routine and non-routine maintenance divided into three general categories consisting of line-maintenance, scheduled maintenance and component service.
Line maintenance consists of daily and weekly scheduled maintenance inspections, including pre-flight, daily, weekly and overnight checks, diagnostics, routine repairs and any unscheduled items on an as needed basis.
Scheduled airframe maintenance inspections typically take one to four weeks and are performed every six to 12 months, with frequency dictated by utilization hours and cycles. Scheduled engine overhauls are performed every one to three years, with frequency also dictated by utilization hours and cycles.
We operate two MROs, with one additional satellite facility in the U.S. and we regularly assess our need for additional MRO facilities. Additionally, we have multiple Mobile Service Units (“MSUs”), located throughout the U.S. to perform line-maintenance work.
We have entered into agreements with certain vendors to provide parts and technician labor related to maintenance of our aircraft at agreed upon pricing and rates. In addition to these arrangements, we have flight hour agreements in place with certain airframe and engine manufacturers whereby the third-party provides maintenance services for various aircraft on our certificates. These maintenance services primarily relate to scheduled airframe maintenance inspections, engine inspections and/or engine overhauls in exchange for an hourly rate per flight hour.
Intellectual Property
The protection of our technology and other intellectual property is an important aspect of our business. We seek to protect our intellectual property (including our technology and confidential information) through a combination of trademarks and trade secret protections, as well as contractual commitments and security procedures.
We generally require our employees and consultants to enter into confidentiality agreements, and certain third-parties to enter into non-disclosure agreements. We regularly review our technology development efforts and branding strategy to identify and assess the protection of new intellectual property.
We own certain trademarks important to our business, such as the “Wheels Up” word and design marks. In addition, we currently own certain domain names, including “wheelsup.com”.
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Competitive Landscape
The private aviation industry is highly fragmented. Because we offer products and services that address the needs of most private flyers, we compete with providers across all of the incumbent categories, including whole aircraft purchases, fractional programs, jet card providers and charter brokers. In addition, with respect to aircraft management, we compete with other companies that provide aircraft management services.
Government Regulation
We are subject to government regulation at local, state, federal and international levels. The scope of these regulations is exceedingly broad, covering a wide range of subjects that includes, but is not limited to, those summarized below.
Principal Domestic Regulatory Authorities
The following paragraphs summarize the roles of some of the most prominent domestic regulators of our business.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) is the principal regulator of economic matters in the aviation industry. As applied to our business, under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (“14 C.F.R.”) Part 298, DOT oversees the operations of our subsidiaries that operate as air taxis (i.e., on-demand operators of small aircraft). This includes economic authority to conduct business as a type of air carrier, as well as consumer protection and insurance requirements that are applied to the conduct of such business. In 14 C.F.R. Part 380 (“Part 380”), DOT also approves and oversees the performance of public charters that may be arranged by a non-air carrier public charter operator for the purpose of offering to the public charter flights that will be performed by an identified air carrier at a predetermined date and time (in contrast to the on-demand, or as-needed/where-needed, character of our air taxi operations).
DOT also regulates how we advertise and hold out services. In 14 C.F.R. Part 295 (“Part 295”), DOT oversees the sale, holding out and arrangement of single entity charter air transportation (or the entire capacity of an aircraft, in contrast to public charter flights which are sold by the seat). We are subject to DOT jurisdiction as an “air charter broker” under Part 295 in offering and selling our membership program for single-entity charters and in acting as an agent for members in arranging flights. We are also subject to DOT’s jurisdiction as a “ticket agent” as defined by 49 U.S.C. Section 40102(a)(45). In every aspect of our business subject to DOT’s jurisdiction, we are subject to DOT’s statutory and regulatory authorities to prohibit and enforce against engaging in “unfair” or “deceptive” practices and unfair methods of competition pursuant to 49 U.S.C. Section 41712. DOT also promulgates and enforces consumer protection regulations to which we are subject, including requirements related to the nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in air transportation, data reporting, recordkeeping, advertising and ticket sales, among others.
Importantly, DOT also enforces U.S. laws governing the citizenship of air carriers. For our air carrier subsidiaries to maintain their air carrier licenses, registrations and other authorizations to hold out and operate services, we must ensure that DOT’s citizenship requirements are satisfied. This means that those air carriers must be under the actual control of U.S. citizens (as defined in 49 U.S.C. Section 40102(a)(15)), and must satisfy certain other requirements, including that each air carrier’s president/chief executive officer and at least two-thirds of its Board and other managing officers are U.S. citizens, and that at least seventy-five percent of its voting stock is owned and controlled, directly and indirectly, by U.S. citizens. The amount of non-voting stock that may be owned or controlled by non-U.S. citizens is limited as well.
The FAA is the principal regulator of safety matters in the aviation industry. The FAA’s regulations touch on many aspects of civil aviation, such as:
the design and manufacturing of aircraft, engines, propellers, avionics and other key components (collectively the “aircraft,” as used below), including engine noise and other environmental standards;
the inspection, maintenance, repair and registration of aircraft;
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the training, licensing or authorizing, and performance of duties by pilots, flight attendants and maintenance technicians;
the testing of safety-sensitive personnel for prohibited drug use or alcohol consumption;
the design, construction, and maintenance of runways and other airport facilities;
the operation of air traffic control systems, including the management of complex air traffic at busy airport facilities;
the certification and oversight of air carriers;
the establishment and use of SMS by air carriers;
the promotion of voluntary systems to encourage the disclosure of data that may aid in enhancing safety; and
the oversight and operational control of air carriers by key personnel, including directors of operations, directors of maintenance, chief pilots, chief inspectors and directors of safety.
There are numerous FAA regulations that may impact our operations and business. They include but are not limited to the following Parts found in Title 14 of the C.F.R.
“Part 91” contains the general operating rules for flight safety. These rules govern all flight operations, including private and commercial operations, except to the extent that the commercial operations are subject to additional rules found in other parts of the FAA regulations.
“Part 135” contains additional rules that apply to commercial “on-demand” operations. “On-demand” operations include flights for which the departure location, departure time, and arrival location are specifically negotiated with the customer or the customer’s representative as well as passenger-carrying operations conducted as a public charter under Part 380.
“Part 145” contains the rules that govern the performance of aircraft maintenance at certificated repair stations. These include requirements related to the quality of the facility, the qualifications of personnel and what type of repair or inspection work is authorized for performance there.
As the operator of our nation’s air traffic control system, the FAA has an especially important role to play in the management of air traffic, including congestion at the busiest airports and in the busiest air corridors. Also, in the case of a security threat, unusual environmental risk, or other emergency, the FAA has authority to shut down segments of airspace or even the entire U.S. airspace to civilian use, as occurred on September 11, 2001.
As an agency of the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”) is the principal regulator of security matters in the aviation industry. Among other things, the TSA regulates the standard security programs in use by U.S. airports and aircraft operators. These programs include elements relating to the training of flight crews, checking the identity and screening of passengers, application of security watch lists and cooperation in threat assessments and responses.
Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), also an agency of DHS, is the principal regulator of customs and immigration matters affecting the aviation industry and enforcer of certain public health matters affecting the aviation industry. Whenever our air carrier operations include an international flight segment, we must provide CBP with an advance disclosure of passenger information, facilitate CBP’s inspection of baggage, and help ensure the proper disposal of any foreign-originating refuse on the aircraft. CBP also oversees entry and clearance into the U.S., including with respect to exports and imports, and issues landing rights approvals for aircraft arriving in the U.S. from abroad.
The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) is the principal federal environmental regulator. In January 2021, the EPA promulgated new rules relating to the greenhouse gas emissions from carbon fuels used in aircraft
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engines. This will bring about a change in future aircraft engine designs and approvals and eventually require replacement of engines in future years. This area of regulation is not yet settled. It still is subject to change based on domestic and international laws and standards intended to address global environmental issues, making it impossible to say how such developments might impact our business in the future.
The vast majority of airports where we fly are owned and operated by state and local government entities. These airport authorities claim the right to impose certain safety, security and other regulations so long as they do not conflict with federal law. Airport authorities also have extensive property rights that empower them to impose conditions on leasing and using airport facilities. The terms on which an airport authority might lease or allow use of its property (or other property and services at an airport) can, at times, be on terms less favorable than would be customary for real estate or other transactions outside of an airport environment.
These regulatory authorities have the ability to stop a part or all of our business and flight operations such as by suspending or revoking our certifications or other authorizations. They also have the ability to impose monetary fines and other civil penalties and to make referrals for criminal prosecution. These actions may occur with little or no notice, depending on the circumstances as perceived by the regulators in their discretion.
Foreign Regulatory Authorities
Most foreign countries have their own regulatory authorities that parallel those found in the U.S. The complexity of interaction with the foreign regulators can be magnified by differences in language, culture, legal and social norms, tax and budgetary practices and perspective on economic development and competition.
Privacy and Data Protection
There are many requirements regarding the collection, use, transfer, security, storage, destruction and other processing of personally identifiable information and other data relating to individuals. Because our technology platform is an integral aspect of our business, compliance with laws governing the use, collection and processing of personal data is necessary for us to achieve our objective of continuously enhancing the user experience of our mobile application and marketing site.
We receive collect, store, process, transmit, share and use personal information, and other customer data, including health information, and we rely in part on third-parties that are not directly under our control to manage certain of these operations and to receive, collect, store, process, transmit, share and use such personal information, including payment information. A variety of federal, state, local, municipal and foreign laws and regulations, as well as industry standards (such as the payment card industry standards) govern the collection, storage, processing, sharing, use, retention and security of this information including but not limited to the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). Laws and regulations relating to privacy and data protection are continually evolving and subject to potentially differing interpretations. These requirements may not be harmonized, may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent from one jurisdiction to another, or may conflict with other rules or our practices. As a result, our practices may not have complied or may not comply in the future with all such laws, regulations, requirements and obligations. The failure to comply with such data protection and privacy regulations can result in fines, penalties and the enforcement of any non-compliance, which could significantly impact our business operations.
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The unprecedented and rapid spread of COVID-19 led to economic and business uncertainties resulting from governmental restrictions on air travel, the implementation of quarantine and shelter-in-place orders, the cancellation of large public events, businesses suspending in-person meetings and the closure of popular tourist destinations.
In order to provide the safest experience while meeting our customers’ essential transportation needs, we developed and implemented Wheels Up Safe Passage™ — a suite of enhanced cleaning and operational protocols to help ensure the safety of our passengers and pilots through best-available sanitization practices and adherence with up-to-date health guidelines.
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Human Capital Resources
Employees
As of December 31, 2021, Wheels Up and its affiliates had 2,171 employees, 2,130 full-time employees, including 927 pilots, and 41 part-time employees, all located in the U.S. Our employee base consists of non-exempt and exempt employees in corporate functions as well as pilots, other crew members and maintenance positions. Wheels Up and its affiliates have not had a work stoppage and none of our employees are represented by a labor organization or under any collective bargaining agreements. Wheels Up considers its employee relations to be good.
Human capital strategies are developed and managed by our Chief People Officer, who reports to the Chief Executive Officer, and are overseen by the compensation committee and the Board. Our culture is customer centric and focused on ensuring we are the most trusted technology company in the private aviation and lifestyle marketplace. We aim to maximize the potential of our human capital resources and deliver quality service through a motivating work environment. Employees are encouraged to achieve more through innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit.
We strive to recruit from amongst the best talent in the industry and reward them appropriately. Our success depends in large part on our ability to attract, retain and develop high-quality management, operations, technology, and other personnel who are in high demand, are often subject to competing employment offers, and are attractive recruiting targets for our competitors. Specifically, we are seeing increased competition for experienced pilots to join our fleet. In an effort to help make Wheels Up their employer of choice, during September 2021, we were the first private aviation company to offer broad-based equity ownership to our pilots. The ability to provide pilots with equity, along with increasing other compensation and benefits, is a unique advantage.
Our annual Culture Check Up survey enables us to obtain confidential feedback directly from our workforce to see if we need to make changes or enhancements to a variety of topics such as diversity, equity and inclusion, engagement, learning and cultural development.
We want all of our employees to feel like true owners of Wheels Up. Therefore, timely, informative and engaging communication is critical. Through regular updates from the executive leadership team, our monthly newsletter What’s Up and recurring all-hands meetings, our objective is to ensure employees are aware of our performance, priorities and path forward.
The health and safety of our employees in their work and personal lives is critical to achieving this objective. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we assembled a task force to develop a wide series of safety measures and protocols in an effort to protect the well-being of our employees and customers. In addition, we asked that all employees who were able to do so work remotely and continue to evaluate flexible work arrangements going forward.
Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (“DEI”)
Our success requires the inclusion of ALL — we strive to empower, engage, and celebrate diversity, authenticity and inclusion, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, identity, age, religion, sexual orientation or culture. Our goal is to maximize the impact of the Wheels Up team by attracting, engaging, and retaining the most talented, dedicated and passionate people in the marketplace. As a result, we are focused on expanding customer acquisition and maximizing corporate growth through the development and execution of an inclusive strategy that amplifies values, while prioritizing cultural sensitivity across a diverse target audience (i.e., female, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and other diverse groups).
We have developed our diversity, equity and inclusion “Guiding Principles” to help ensure alignment across our internal and external programs/processes. Wheels Up has also established a dedicated role within the human resources team to drive our multi-year DEI strategy focused on attracting, engaging, retaining and elevating diverse talent, establishing equitable people practices and creating an inclusive culture. Our current efforts in amplifying DEI include:
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Establishing target diversity scorecard metrics around talent acquisition, talent movement/management, and employee engagement. Our scorecard will reflect our entire organization – from our entry level employees, all the way to the Executive Leadership Team.
The prioritization of diversifying our candidate pipeline through partnership investments with external organizations including Women Aviation International, National Gay Pilot Association, Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, RedTail Flight Academy and the U.S. Military.
Planned launch of employee resource groups (“ERGs”) in 2022. Our intent for the launch of ERGs is to create a safe space for diverse employees to share common experiences and collectively elevate their voices. ERGs will play a vital role in ensuring an inclusive environment where all are valued, included and empowered to succeed.
DEI focused employee engagement events that will help elevate the knowledge and understanding of diverse communities and inclusive practices.
In addition, Wheels Up has taken a progressive approach in the provision of comprehensive benefits including:
Multiple counseling sessions offered through Employee Assistance programs, that support employees and their families’ emotional well-being.
Health plan coverage for infertility assistance.
Domestic partner health plan coverage.
Health plan coverage for gender reassignment surgery.
Parental Leave for both birth and non-birthing parents, including adoption or foster care.
Wheels Up is proud of its DEI initiatives, as we are committed to gaining full equity via the development of educational programs and inclusive efforts that will help democratize our industry.
Our Social Impact Initiatives
Wheels Up Cares
Through our Wheels Up Cares initiative, we are committed to supporting philanthropic organizations and initiatives that affect and matter to our company, members, customers, stakeholders, families, friends and communities. The Wheels Up Cares fleet is comprised of custom painted Beechcraft King Air 350i aircraft; each plane, active in our fleet and flying members daily, serves as a flying symbol of awareness for a specific cause.
Meals Up Partnership with Feeding America
Our Meals Up initiative was created in partnership with Feeding America to help support the growing levels of food insecurity in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. This effort has already raised and inspired the equivalent of more than 70 million meals for Feeding America.
Environmental
We are committed to reducing the environmental impact of our fleets, as well as the long-term effects of our overall operations. Over time, we expect to fully offset the carbon impact of our flight operations through the purchase and retirement of applicable carbon credits or via another established and vetted mechanism. We are also examining other sustainability initiatives, including the potential use of sustainable aircraft fuel and long-range investments in other sustainability solutions, as well as operational improvements, sustainable practices at our facilities and a reduction in single-use plastics at our offices and aboard our aircraft.
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Corporate History and Structure
Wheels Up was formed on July 1, 2013. Our operating subsidiaries include, among others, Wheels Up Partners Holdings LLC, Avianis, WUPJ, Gama and Mountain Aviation.
Our corporate headquarters is located at 601 West 26th Street, Suite 900, New York, New York 10001, our telephone number is (212) 257-5252 and our internet address is www.wheelsup.com. The information on, or that can be accessed through, Wheels Up’s website is not part of this Annual Report. The website address is included as an inactive textual reference only.
Available Information
We make available free of charge on our website at wheelsup.com/investors our Annual Report on Form 10-K, our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, our Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports as soon as reasonably practicable after these reports are filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Information on our website is not incorporated into this Annual Report or our other securities filings and is not a part of those filings.

Item 1A. RISK FACTORS
Risks Relating to Our Business and Industry
We may not be able to successfully implement our growth strategies.
Our growth strategies include, among other things, expanding our addressable market by opening up private aviation to non-members through our marketplace, expanding into new domestic and international markets and developing adjacent businesses. We face numerous challenges in implementing our growth strategies, including our ability to execute on market, business, product/service and geographic expansions. Our strategies for growth are dependent on, among other things, our ability to expand existing products and service offerings and launch new products and service offerings. Although we devote significant financial and other resources to the expansion of our products and service offerings, including increasing our access to available aircraft supply, these efforts may not be commercially successful or achieve the desired results. Our financial results and our ability to maintain or improve our competitive position will depend on our ability to effectively gauge the direction of our key marketplaces and successfully identify, develop, market and sell new or improved products and services in these changing marketplaces. Our inability to successfully implement our growth strategies could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and any assumptions underlying estimates of expected cost savings or expected revenues may be inaccurate.
We have a limited operating history and history of net losses, and we anticipate that we will experience net losses for the foreseeable future.
You should consider our business and prospects in light of the risks, expenses and difficulties encountered by companies in their early stage of development. We launched our business on July 1, 2013. Accordingly, we have limited operating history upon which to base an evaluation of our business and prospects.
We have experienced significant net losses since inception and, given the significant operating and capital expenditures associated with our business plan, we anticipate continuing net losses for the foreseeable future. If we do achieve profitability, we cannot be certain that we will be able to sustain or increase such profitability. We incurred net losses of $197.2 million and $85.4 million for the years ended December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively. We have not consistently generated positive cash flow from operations, and we cannot be certain that we will be able to generate positive cash flow from operations in the future. To achieve and sustain profitability, we must accomplish numerous objectives, including broadening and stabilizing our sources of revenue and increasing the number of paying members to our service, as well as improve our Adjusted Contribution Margin. Accomplishing these objectives may require significant capital investments. We cannot be assured that we will be able to achieve these objectives.
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Our operating results are expected to be difficult to predict based on a number of factors that also will affect our long-term performance.
We expect our operating results to fluctuate significantly in the future based on a variety of factors, many of which are outside our control and difficult to predict. As a result, period-to-period comparisons of our operating results may not be a good indicator of our future or long-term performance. The following factors may affect us from period-to-period and may affect our long-term performance:
we may fail to successfully execute our business, marketing and other strategies;
the travel limitations that we placed on members who joined on or after November 1, 2021, including their inability to fly for a rolling 90-day period, could negatively impact our growth rate and financial performance;
we may experience the detrimental effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic such as outbreaks of disease that affect travel behaviors;
we may be unable to attract new customers and/or retain existing customers;
our Adjusted Contribution Margin may be negatively impacted by increased flight costs due to aircraft supply constraints combined with our guaranteed rate pricing and fixed purchases of Fund Programs;
our ability to grow complementary products and service offerings may be limited, which could negatively impact our growth rate and financial performance;
we may be impacted by changes in consumer preferences, perceptions, spending patterns and demographic trends;
we may require additional capital to finance strategic investments and operations, pursue business objectives and respond to business opportunities, challenges or unforeseen circumstances, and we cannot be sure that additional financing will be available or at reasonable prices and terms;
our historical growth rates may not be reflective of our future growth;
our business and operating results may be significantly impacted by actual or potential changes to the international, national, regional and local economic, business and financial conditions, the health of the U.S. aviation industry and risks associated with our aviation assets including recession, inflation and higher interest rates;
litigation or investigations involving us could result in material settlements, fines or penalties and may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations;
existing or new adverse regulations or interpretations thereof applicable to our industry may restrict our ability to expand or to operate our business as we wish and may expose us to fines and other penalties;
the occurrence of geopolitical events such as war, terrorism, civil unrest, political instability, environmental or climatic factors, natural disaster, pandemic or epidemic outbreak, public health crisis and general economic conditions may have an adverse effect on our business;
some of our potential losses may not be covered by insurance, and we may be unable to obtain or maintain adequate insurance coverage; and
we are potentially subject to taxation-related risks in multiple jurisdictions, and changes in tax laws could have a material adverse effect on our business, cash flow, results of operations or financial condition.
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We may not be able to grow our complementary products and service offerings through opportunistic acquisitions or otherwise as part of our growth strategy. Any failure to adequately integrate past and future acquisitions into our business could have a material adverse effect on us.
From time to time, we may consider opportunities to acquire other companies, products or technologies that may enhance our products and service offerings or technology, expand the breadth of our markets or customer base, or advance our business strategies. Any such transaction could be material to our business and could take any number of forms, including mergers, joint ventures and the purchase of equity interests. The consideration for such transactions may include, among other things, cash, common stock or our equity interests, and in conjunction with a transaction we might incur indebtedness. If we elect to pursue an acquisition, our ability to successfully implement this transaction would depend on a variety of factors. If we need to obtain any third-parties’ consent prior to an acquisition, they may refuse to provide such consent or condition their consent on our compliance with additional restrictive covenants that limit our operating flexibility.
Acquisition transactions involve risks, including, but not limited to:
insufficient revenue to offset liabilities assumed;
inadequate return of capital;
regulatory or compliance issues, including securing and maintaining regulatory approvals;
unidentified issues not discovered in due diligence;
those associated with integrating the operations or (as applicable) separately maintaining the operations;
financial reporting;
managing geographically dispersed operations;
the diversion of management’s attention from current operations;
potential unknown risks associated with an acquisition;
unanticipated expenses related to acquired businesses or technologies and their integration into our existing business or technology;
the potential loss of key employees, customers or partners of an acquired business; or
the tax effects of any such acquisitions.
We may not successfully integrate our past acquisitions or any future acquisitions and may not achieve anticipated revenue and cost benefits relating to any such transactions. Realizing the benefits of acquisitions depends in part on the integration of operations and personnel. If we do not complete an announced acquisition transaction or integrate an acquired business successfully and in a timely manner, we may not realize the benefits of the acquisition to the extent anticipated, and in certain circumstances an acquisition could harm our financial position. In addition, strategic transactions may be expensive, time consuming and may strain our resources. Such transactions may not be accretive to our earnings and may negatively impact our results of operations as a result of, among other things, the incurrence or assumption of indebtedness, or the impairment or write-off of goodwill and intangible assets. Furthermore, strategic transactions that we may pursue could result in dilutive issuances of equity securities. As a result of the risks inherent in such transactions, we cannot guarantee that any future transaction will be completed successfully or that it will ultimately result in the realization of our anticipated benefits or that it will not have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations. If we were to complete such an acquisition, investment or other strategic transaction, we may require debt financing that could result in significant indebtedness and debt service obligations.
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We are exposed to the risk of a decrease in demand for private aviation services.
Historically, we have generally provided private aviation services through a membership-only program business model. Our membership program requires members to generally pay an up-front initiation fee and recurring annual dues. If demand for private aviation services or success in selling were to decrease, this could result in slower new member growth, members declining to renew their memberships and/or reducing their aggregate flight utilization and spend, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, we have historically relied on the purchase of memberships and purchases of Fund Programs by members to apply to flight costs (“Prepaid Blocks”) as a source of capital to fund our ongoing operations. Changes in demand for our products and services by our members could result in a significant decrease in such Prepaid Blocks or an increase in the rate at which our members utilize their Prepaid Blocks. Such changes could negatively impact our cash flows from operations, unexpectedly accelerate our liquidity needs and require us to seek alternate sources of capital, including debt financings, which may not be available or on acceptable terms.
In addition, our customers may consider private air travel through our products and services to be a luxury item, especially when compared to commercial air travel. As a result, any general downturn in economic, business and financial conditions which has an adverse effect on our customers’ spending habits could cause them to travel less frequently and, to the extent they travel, to travel using commercial air carriers or other means considered to be more economical than our products and services. In addition, in cases where sufficient hours of private flight are needed, many of the companies and high-net-worth individuals to whom we provide products and services have the financial ability to purchase their own jets or operate their own corporate flight department should they elect to do so.
The private aviation industry is subject to competition.
Many of the markets in which we operate are competitive as a result of the expansion of existing private aircraft operators, expanding private aircraft ownership and alternatives such as luxury commercial airline service. We compete against a number of private aviation operators with different business models, and local and regional private charter operators. Factors that affect competition in our industry include price, reliability, safety, regulations, professional reputation, aircraft availability, equipment and quality, consistency and ease of service, willingness and ability to serve specific airports or regions and investment requirements. There can be no assurance that our competitors will not be successful in capturing a share of our present or potential customer base. The materialization of any of these risks could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The outbreak and global spread of COVID-19 has adversely impacted certain aspects of our business. The duration and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, and similar public health threats that we may face in the future, could result in additional adverse effects on our business, operating results, including without limitation Adjusted Contribution Margin, financial condition and liquidity.
The COVID-19 outbreak, along with the measures governments and private organizations worldwide implemented in an attempt to contain the spread of this pandemic, resulted in an overall decline in demand for air travel, which decline was severe in late spring and early summer of 2020. In addition, the initiatives and measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 have increased costs to our business, including additional costs in connection with the implementation of our Wheels Up Safe Passage™ program of enhanced safety, cleanliness and health protocols and guidelines introduced in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. We anticipate that it may be necessary to continue to incur such costs for the foreseeable future as part of ongoing operations. In addition, while there has been a recovery in demand, driven in part by an influx of new flyers to the industry, certain types of travel that have historically been a material driver of flight revenue, including business, event and international travel, have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
The spread of COVID-19 also prevented us from offering members access to in-person “Wheels Down” experiential events, a key lifestyle component of our membership and a significant contributor to customer loyalty and retention. For example, we were forced to cancel all Wheels Down in-person events and experiences scheduled to occur from and after mid-March 2020 through November 2021, including our popular annual events held in Augusta, Georgia during the week of The Masters® golf tournament and our Super Saturday Tailgate event prior to the Super Bowl®. We did resume our pop-up celebration in Miami, Florida during the week of Art Basel® 2021 but
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we anticipate that we will be limited in our ability to provide such experiences for our members for the foreseeable future, which may impact our member retention, particularly with respect to our less frequent flyer members.
Outbreaks of variants of COVID-19 have also disrupted our operations and accentuated other risks to or business, such as the availability of qualified flight personnel ― see “The loss of key personnel upon whom we depend on to operate our business or the inability to attract additional qualified personnel could adversely affect our business.” ― and reliance on our third-party service providers ― see “If we face problems with any of our third-party service providers, our operations could be adversely affected.” Such an outbreak of COVID-19 or similar disease could result in significant downtime of our aircraft and result in material and adverse effects on our business, operating results, financial condition and liquidity.
In response to the sharp decline in private air travel during late spring and early summer 2020, we availed ourselves of a government assistance grant in an aggregate amount of $76.4 million under the CARES Act Payroll Support Program administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury (the “Treasury”) and implemented certain cost saving initiatives, including offering voluntary furloughs to our employees, implementing a mandatory reduction in all work schedules and delaying certain previously planned initiatives and internal investments. Such cost saving measures were largely discontinued in the fourth quarter of 2020, although certain reductions in expenditures, such as capital expenditures related to our New York City headquarters’ office are expected to continue for the pendency of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the severity, magnitude and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic remain uncertain, there can be no assurance that these actions will be sufficient and that other similar measures may not be required during the pendency of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, federal, state and local government authorities implemented directives, orders and regulations intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and in response, we have modified our practices, policies and procedures, as appropriate. For example, on October 25, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the “CDC”) issued an order effective November 8, 2021 (amending a prior order that had been in effect since January 26, 2021) requiring that all passengers (2 years of age or older) traveling by air to the U.S. from a foreign country (i) obtain a COVID-19 test no more than three days (for fully vaccinated passengers) or one day (for passengers who are not fully vaccinated) before their flight departs and (ii) provide proof of a negative result (or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19) prior to boarding the flight. The CDC and the TSA also issued orders effective February 1, 2021, mandating the wearing of face masks on flights, subject to certain limited exceptions. Such health requirements or standards, whether mandated by government agencies or voluntarily adopted by us, related to COVID-19 or otherwise intended to mitigate the spread of communicable diseases, may directly impact demand for air travel. In addition, COVID-19 and related restrictions may have a material and adverse impact on other aspects of our business, including enhanced risk of delays or defaults in payments by customers, delays and difficulties in completing maintenance work on certain aircraft and delays or shortages in our supply chain.
The full extent of the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on our future operational and financial performance will depend on future developments, many of which are outside our control, including the severity, magnitude, duration and spread of COVID-19, including any recurrence of the pandemic, and related travel advisories, restrictions and future government action, all of which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted. At this time, we are also not able to predict whether the COVID-19 pandemic will result in long-term changes to business practices and consumer behavior, with such changes including but not limited to a long-term reduction in travel as a result of increased usage of “virtual” and “teleconferencing” products or a general reluctance to travel by consumers.
In addition, an outbreak of another disease or similar public health threat, or fear of such an event, that affects travel demand, travel behavior or travel restrictions could adversely impact our business, financial condition and operating results. Outbreaks of other diseases could also result in increased government restrictions and regulation, such as those actions described above or otherwise, which could adversely affect our operations.
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We are subject to certain restrictions on our business as a result of our participation in governmental programs under the CARES Act.
Wheels Up applied for government assistance under the Payroll Support Program maintained and administered by the Treasury as directed by the CARES Act and were awarded a total of $76.4 million to support ongoing operations, all of which has been received. In addition, Mountain Aviation had separately applied for assistance under the Payroll Support Program, and was awarded an aggregate of $2.4 million, all of which it received prior to our acquisition of such business in January 2021. Both awards are governed by the terms and conditions of the CARES Act and a separate payroll support agreement (“PSA”) with the Treasury. Neither we, nor Mountain Aviation, were required to issue equity or other form of security to the Treasury in connection with such awards.
As a recipient of such awards and pursuant to the terms of the CARES Act and the applicable PSAs, we are subject to certain restrictions and other requirements upon which the awards were conditioned, including certain restrictions on executive and other employee compensation through March 24, 2022 and certain ongoing reporting obligations through March 24, 2022. The limits on executive and other compensation may negatively impact us and our ability to retain senior management and attract other key employees.
While we believe that we are fully compliant with all requirements of the CARES Act and the PSAs, including the requirement to use the awards only for payment of certain employment costs, if we were found to be not in compliance with such requirements, the Treasury has broad discretion to select potential remedies, including to require repayment of the awards. The imposition of any such remedy could have a material and adverse effect on our financial condition.
Mountain Aviation also received a loan (the “PPP Loan”), dated as of April 14, 2020, from Zions Bancorporation N.A. dba Vectra Bank (“Vectra”) under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”). The PPP Loan is subject to the terms and conditions applicable to loans administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) under the CARES Act, which is subject to revisions and changes by the SBA and Congress. Given that Mountain Aviation received more than $2.0 million under its PPP Loan, we will be subject to an audit by the SBA. We believe that we satisfied all eligibility criteria for the PPP Loan, and that Mountain Aviation’s receipt of the PPP Loan was consistent with the broad objectives of the PPP of the CARES Act. The certification regarding necessity described above did not at the time contain any objective criteria and continues to be subject to interpretation. The PPP Loan was forgiven by the SBA on June 9, 2021. If, despite our good-faith belief that Mountain Aviation satisfied all eligibility requirements for the PPP Loan, Mountain Aviation is later determined to have violated any of the laws or governmental regulations that apply to us in connection with the PPP Loan or it is otherwise determined that Mountain Aviation was ineligible to receive the PPP Loan, we could be subject to civil, criminal and administrative penalties or adverse publicity. Any such events could consume significant financial and management resources and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Delta may have the right to terminate its commercial agreements with us.
The CCA with Delta contemplates that we will work together with Delta each year to develop an annual joint marketing and communications plan that focuses on revenue and brand goals, influence/ambassador partnerships and co-branded event opportunities, and that Delta and we will provide certain benefits to the other’s customers and share certain data.
The CCA also contemplates that we will provide certain in-kind benefits to Delta, measured on an annual basis. Examples of such in-kind benefits include our members’ purchasing Delta products and services above a certain level and access for certain Delta customers to Wheels Down marketing activities, events and member experiences. We use reasonable best efforts to mutually agree upon the minimum amounts of in-kind benefits that we are required to provide. Such minimum levels are established by considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel demand and in-person gatherings and the pace of industry recovery. If we are not able to provide the minimum amounts of in-kind benefits to Delta in any year starting in 2022, subject to any cure rights that we may agree with Delta, Delta will have the right to terminate the CCA and the other commercial agreements, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and cash flows.
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The loss of key personnel upon whom we depend on to operate our business or the inability to attract additional qualified personnel could adversely affect our business.
We believe that our future success will depend in large part on our ability to retain or attract highly qualified management, technical and other personnel, particularly our founder and Chief Executive Officer, Kenny Dichter. We compete against commercial and private aviation operators, including the major U.S. airlines for pilots, mechanics and other skilled labor and some of the airlines may offer wage and benefit packages which exceed ours. As we grow our fleet and/or more pilots approach retirement age, we may be affected by a pilot shortage. See “― Pilot attrition may negatively affect our operations and financial condition.” In addition, we may lose crew members due to the impact of COVID-19 and restrictions imposed under the CARES Act. We may not be successful in retaining key personnel or in attracting other highly qualified personnel. Any inability to retain or attract significant numbers of qualified management and other personnel would have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
The supply of pilots to the airline industry is limited and may negatively affect our operations and financial condition. Increases in our labor costs, which constitute a substantial portion of our total operating costs, may adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Our pilots are subject to stringent pilot qualification and crew member flight training standards (“FAA Qualification Standards”), which among other things require minimum flight time for pilots and mandate strict rules to minimize pilot fatigue. The existence of such requirements effectively limits the supply of qualified pilot candidates and increases pilot salaries and related labor costs. A shortage of pilots would require us to further increase our labor costs, which would result in a material reduction in our earnings and Adjusted Contribution Margin. Such requirements also impact pilot scheduling, work hours and the number of pilots required to be employed for our operations.
In addition, our operations and financial condition may be negatively impacted if we are unable to train pilots in a timely manner. Due to an industry-wide shortage of qualified pilots, driven by the flight hours requirements under the FAA Qualification Standards and attrition resulting from the hiring needs of other industry participants, pilot training timelines have significantly increased and stressed the availability of flight simulators, instructors and related training equipment. As a result, the training of our pilots may not be accomplished in a cost-efficient manner or in a manner timely enough to support our operational needs.
Due to the flexibility on the types of aircraft and routes we offer, we may not have access to a qualified pilot at the departure location. We rely on commercial airlines to fly our pilots to the departure location. Any disruption to such commercial airline activity may cause use to delay or cancel a flight and could adversely affect our reputation, business, results of operation and financial condition. See “― Aviation businesses are often affected by factors beyond their control including: air traffic congestion at airports; airport slot restrictions; air traffic control inefficiencies; increased and changing security measures; changing regulatory and governmental requirements; new or changing travel-related taxes; any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.”
Pilot attrition may negatively affect our operations and financial condition.
In recent years, we have experienced significant volatility in our attrition, including volatility resulting from pilot wage and bonus increases at other industry participants and the growth of cargo, low-cost and ultra-low-cost airlines. In prior periods, these factors, at times, caused our pilot attrition rates to be higher than our ability to hire and retain replacement pilots. If our attrition rates are higher than our ability to hire and retain replacement pilots, our operations and financial results could be materially and adversely affected.
We may be subject to unionization, work stoppages, slowdowns or increased labor costs and the unionization of our pilots, maintenance workers and inflight crewmembers could result in increased labor costs.
Our business is labor intensive and while our employees, particularly our pilots and our maintenance workers, are not currently represented by labor unions, we may, in the future, experience union organizing activities of our pilots, maintenance workers or other crewmembers. Such union organization activities could lead to work
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slowdowns or stoppages, which could result in loss of business. In addition, union activity could result in demands that may increase our operating expenses and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and competitive position. Any of the different crafts or classes of our crewmembers could unionize at any time, which would require us to negotiate in good faith with the crew member group’s certified representative concerning a collective bargaining agreement. In addition, we may be subject to disruptions by unions protesting the non-union status of our other crewmembers. Any of these events would be disruptive to our operations and could harm our business.
We may never realize the full value of our intangible assets or our long-lived assets, causing us to record impairments that may materially adversely affect our financial conditions and results of operations.
In accordance with applicable accounting standards, we are required to test our indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment on an annual basis, or more frequently where there is an indication of impairment. In addition, we are required to test certain of our other assets for impairment where there is any indication that an asset may be impaired, such as our market capitalization being less than the book value of our equity.
We may be required to recognize losses in the future due to, among other factors, extreme fuel price volatility, tight credit markets, government regulatory changes, decline in the fair values of certain tangible or intangible assets, such as aircraft, unfavorable trends in historical or forecasted results of operations and cash flows and an uncertain economic environment, as well as other uncertainties.
We can provide no assurance that a material impairment loss of tangible or intangible assets will not occur in a future period, and the risk of future material impairments has been significantly heightened as result of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our flight schedules and business. The value of our aircraft could also be impacted in future periods by changes in supply and demand for these aircraft. Such changes in supply and demand for certain aircraft types could result from the grounding of aircraft. See also “― The residual value of our owned aircraft may be less than estimated in our depreciation policies.”
An impairment loss could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and operating results.
The residual value of our owned aircraft may be less than estimated in our depreciation policies.
As of December 31, 2021, we had $317.8 million of property and equipment and related assets, net of accumulated depreciation, of which $285.8 million relates to owned aircraft. In accounting for these long-lived assets, we make estimates about the expected useful lives of the assets, the expected residual values of certain of these assets, and the potential for impairment based on the fair value of the assets and the cash flows they generate. Factors indicating potential impairment include, but are not limited to, significant decreases in the market value of the long-lived assets, a significant change in the condition of the long-lived assets and operating cash flow losses associated with the use of the long-lived assets. In the event the estimated residual value of any of our aircraft types is determined to be lower than the residual value assumptions used in our depreciation policies, the applicable aircraft type in our fleet may be impaired and may result in a material reduction in the book value of applicable aircraft types we operate or we may need to prospectively modify our depreciation policies. An impairment on any of the aircraft types we operate or an increased level of depreciation expense resulting from a change to our depreciation policies could result in a material negative impact to our financial results.
Significant reliance on Textron aircraft and spare parts poses risks to our business and prospects.
As part of our business strategy, we have historically flown Textron Aviation (“Textron”) aircraft substantially. A majority of the aircraft we currently operate are the product of that single manufacturer. We have negotiated preferred rates with Textron for line maintenance services, certain component repair services and to purchase and exchange parts. Parts and services from Textron are subject to their product and workmanship warranties. If Textron fails to adequately fulfill its obligations towards us or experiences interruptions or disruptions in production or provision of services due to, for example, bankruptcy, natural disasters, labor strikes or disruption of its supply chain, we may experience a significant delay in the delivery of or fail to receive previously ordered aircraft and parts, which would adversely affect our revenue and results of operations and could jeopardize our ability to meet the demands of our program participants. Although we could choose to operate aircraft of other manufacturers or
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increase our reliance on third-party operators, such a change would involve substantial expense to us and could disrupt our business activities.
Significant reliance on Pratt and Whitney and Rolls Royce aircraft engines poses risks to our owned and leased aircraft.
As part of our business strategy, we have historically relied on Pratt & Whitney Canada, Corp. (“Pratt and Whitney”) and Rolls Royce aircraft engines to power our owned and leased aircraft. If either Pratt and Whitney or Rolls Royce fail to adequately fulfill their obligations towards us or experience interruptions or disruptions in production or provision of services due to, for example, bankruptcy, natural disasters, labor strikes or disruption of its supply chain, we may experience a significant delay in the delivery of or fail to receive previously ordered aircraft engines and parts, which would adversely affect our revenue and profitability and could jeopardize our ability to meet the demands of our program participants.
We may incur substantial maintenance costs as part of our leased aircraft return obligations.
Our aircraft lease agreements may contain provisions that require us to return aircraft airframes and engines to the lessor in a specified condition or pay an amount to the lessor based on the actual return condition of the equipment. These lease return costs are recorded in the period in which they are incurred. We estimate the cost of maintenance lease return obligations and accrue such costs over the remaining lease term when the expense is probable and can be reasonably estimated. Any unexpected increase in maintenance return costs may negatively impact our financial position and results of operations.
We are exposed to operational disruptions due to maintenance.
Our fleet requires regular maintenance work, which may cause operational disruption. Our inability to perform timely maintenance and repairs can result in our aircraft being underutilized which could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations. On occasion, airframe manufacturers and/or regulatory authorities require mandatory or recommended modifications to be made across a particular fleet which may mean having to ground a particular type of aircraft. This may cause operational disruption to and impose significant costs on us. Furthermore, our operations in remote locations, where delivery of components and parts could take a significant period of time, could result in delays in our ability to maintain and repair our aircraft. We often rely on commercial airlines to deliver such components and parts. Any such delays may pose a risk to our business, financial condition and results of operations. See “― Aviation businesses are often affected by factors beyond their control including: air traffic congestion at airports; airport slot restrictions; air traffic control inefficiencies; increased and changing security measures; changing regulatory and governmental requirements; new or changing travel-related taxes; any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.” Moreover, as our aircraft base increases and our fleet ages, our maintenance costs could potentially increase.
Our transition to in-house maintenance, repair and overhaul activities could prove unsuccessful or impact key relationships.
We have recently acquired MRO facilities through our acquisitions of TMC, DPJ and Mountain Aviation, and our business strategy contemplates that certain of the MRO activities for which we have historically relied on third-parties to perform would instead be handled at our facilities. We may be unsuccessful in such efforts, which could have an adverse effect on our future business and results of operations.
The successful execution of our MRO strategy could adversely affect our relationships with vendors historically providing MRO services to us, from whom we expect to continue to require maintenance and other services. In addition, performing such services in-house would internalize the risks and potential liability for the performance of such services. If maintenance is not performed properly this may lead to significant damage to aircraft, loss of life, negative publicity and legal claims against us.
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Significant increases in fuel costs could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Fuel is essential to the operation of our aircraft and to our ability to carry out our transport services. Fuel costs are a key component of our operating expenses. A significant increase in fuel costs may negatively impact our revenue, operating expenses and results of operations, including Adjusted Contribution Margin. Pursuant to our membership agreements, we are able to add a limited fuel surcharge to our guaranteed capped rates with specified prior notice, and to our members and customers without capped rate pricing directly by adjusting our pricing when needed. Given our contractual ability to pass on increased fuel costs, in whole or in part, to certain of our customers and mitigate the risk with others, we do not maintain hedging arrangements for the price of fuel. However, increased fuel surcharges may affect our revenue and retention if a prolonged period of high fuel costs occurs. In addition, potential increased environmental regulations that might require new fuel sources (e.g., sustainable aircraft fuel) could lead to increased costs. To the extent there is a significant increase in fuel costs that affects the amount our customers choose to fly with us, it may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If we face problems with any of our third-party service providers, our operations could be adversely affected.
Our reliance upon others to provide essential services on behalf of our operations may limit our ability to control the efficiency and timeliness of contract services. We have entered into agreements with original equipment manufacturers (“OEMs”) and third-party contractors to provide various facilities and services required for our operations, including aircraft maintenance, ground facilities and IT services, and expect to enter into additional similar agreements in the future. In particular, we rely on OEMs, Textron, Hartzell Propeller Inc. and third-party providers for procurement of replacement parts or to provide component exchange or repair services for our fleet. We also rely on Pratt and Whitney and Rolls Royce to provide engine maintenance for their respective engine products. Our agreements with such OEMs, and other service providers, are subject to termination after notice. If our third-party service providers terminate their contracts with us, or do not provide timely or consistently high-quality service, we may not be able to replace them in a cost-efficient manner or in a manner timely enough to support our operational needs, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, our operations could be materially and adversely affected by the failure or inability of OEMs to provide sufficient parts or related maintenance and support services to us in a timely manner.
Some of our business is dependent on our third-party operators to provide flights for our customers. If such third-party operators do not perform adequately or terminate their relationships with us, our costs may increase and our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.
While we operate a significant portion of the flights for our customers, the transition to increased utilization of third-party operators is a key element of our go-forward, “asset right” fleet strategy. For the year ended December 31, 2021, approximately 21.4% of our flights were fulfilled by third-party aircraft operators on our behalf, a substantial majority of which were with our ten most frequently used partners. We face the risk that any of our third-party operators may not fulfill their contracts and deliver their services on a timely basis, or at all. The ability of our third-party operators to effectively satisfy our requirements could also be impacted by any such third-party operators’ financial difficulty or damage to their operations caused by fire, terrorist attack, natural disaster, pandemic, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, or other events. In addition, due to aircraft supply constraints across the industry, we may be required to pay more for capacity with our third-party operators to service customer or member flights. The failure of any third-party operators to perform to our expectations could result in delayed or cancelled flights or service credits, and harm the applicable portion of our business. Our reliance on third-party operators and our inability to fully control any operational difficulties or increased costs with our third-party operators could have a material adverse effect on the portion of our business where we use third-party operators, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, due to our reliance on third-parties to supplement our capabilities, we are subject to the risk of disruptions to their operations, which has in the past and may in the future result from many of the same risk factors disclosed in this Part I, Item 1A. ― “Risk Factors” section, such as the impact of adverse economic conditions and the inability of third-parties to hire or retain skilled personnel, including pilots and mechanics. Several of these third-
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party operators provide significant capacity that we would be unable to replace in a short period of time should that operator fail to perform its obligations to us. Disruptions to capital markets, shortages of skilled personnel and adverse economic conditions in general, such as conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, have subjected certain of these third-party operators to significant financial and operational pressures, which have in the past and could result in future temporary or permanent cessation of their operations.
Union strikes or staff shortages among airport workers or certain pilots of third-party aircraft operators may result in disruptions of our operations and thus could have a material adverse effect on some of our business, financial condition and results of operations. Any significant disruption to our operations as a result of problems with any of our third-party aircraft operators would have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
In addition, we have entered into agreements with contractors to provide various facilities and services required for our operations. Because we rely on others to provide such services, our ability to control the efficiency and timeliness of such services is limited. Similar agreements may be entered into in any new markets we decide to serve. We are also at risk should one of these service providers cease operations, and there is no guarantee that we could replace these providers on a timely basis with comparably priced providers, or at all. Any material problems with the efficiency and timeliness of contract services, resulting from financial hardships or otherwise, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
In addition, in the event potential competitors establish cooperative or strategic relationships with third-party aircraft operators in the markets we serve, offer to pay third-party aircraft operators more attractive rates or guarantee a higher volume of flights than we have historically offered, we may not have access to the necessary number of aircraft to achieve our planned growth. If our third-party aircraft operators are unable or unwilling to support our growth, or we are unable to add new operators, some of our business and results of operations could be adversely affected. As the private aviation market grows, we expect competition for third-party aircraft operators to increase. Further, we expect that as competition in the private aviation market grows, the use of exclusive contractual arrangements with third-party aircraft operators, sometimes requiring volume guarantees and prepayments or deposits, may increase. This may require us to purchase or lease additional aircraft that may not be available or require us to incur significant capital or operating expenditures.
Our insurance may become too difficult or expensive to obtain. If we are unable to maintain sufficient insurance coverage, it may materially and adversely impact our results of operations and financial position.
Hazards are inherent in the aviation industry and may result in loss of life and property, potentially exposing us to substantial liability claims arising from the operation of aircraft. We carry insurance for aviation hull, aviation liability, premises, hangarkeepers, product, war risk, general liability, workers compensation, directors and officers, cyber and other insurance customary in the industry in which we operate. Insurance underwriters are required by various federal and state regulations to maintain minimum levels of reserves for known and expected claims. However, there can be no assurance that underwriters have established adequate reserves to fund existing and future claims. The number of accidents, as well as the number of insured losses within the aviation and aerospace industries, and the impact of general economic conditions on underwriters may result in increases in premiums above the rate of inflation. To the extent that our existing insurance carriers are unable or unwilling to provide us with sufficient insurance coverage, and if insurance coverage is not available from another source (for example, a government entity), our insurance costs may increase and may result in our being in breach of regulatory requirements or contractual arrangements requiring that specific insurance be maintained, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, incidents related to aircraft operation with respect to the portion of our business where we use third-party operators are covered by our third-party operators’ insurance. If our third-party aircraft operators’ insurance costs increase, such operators are likely to pass the increased costs to us, which could cause us to increase the prices paid by our customers. Such cost increases could adversely affect demand for our products and services and harm our business.
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Our self-insurance programs may expose us to significant and unexpected costs and losses.
Since January 1, 2021, we have maintained employee health insurance coverage on a self-insured basis. We do maintain stop loss coverage which sets a limit on our liability for both individual and aggregate claim costs. Prior to January 1, 2021, we maintained such coverage on a fully insured basis. We record a liability for our estimated cost of claims incurred and unpaid as of each balance sheet date. Our estimated liability is recorded on an undiscounted basis and includes a number of significant assumptions and factors, including historical trends, expected costs per claim, actuarial assumptions and current economic conditions. Our history of claims activity for all lines of coverage has been and will be closely monitored, and liabilities will be adjusted as warranted based on changing circumstances. It is possible, however, that our actual liabilities may exceed our estimates of loss. We may also experience an unexpectedly large number of claims that result in costs or liabilities in excess of our projections, and therefore we may be required to record additional expenses. For these and other reasons, our self-insurance reserves could prove to be inadequate, resulting in liabilities in excess of our available insurance and self-insurance. If a successful claim is made against us and is not covered by our insurance or exceeds our policy limits, our business may be negatively and materially impacted.
If our efforts to continue to build our strong brand identity and improve member satisfaction and loyalty are not successful, we may not be able to attract or retain members, and our operating results may be adversely affected.
We must continue to build and maintain strong brand identity for our products and services, which have expanded over time. We believe that strong brand identity will continue to be important in attracting members. If our efforts to promote and maintain our brand are not successful, our operating results and our ability to attract members and other customers may be adversely affected. From time to time, our members and other customers may express dissatisfaction with our products and service offerings, in part due to factors that could be outside of our control, such as the timing and availability of aircraft and service interruptions driven by prevailing political, regulatory or natural conditions. To the extent dissatisfaction with our products and services is widespread or not adequately addressed, our brand may be adversely impacted and our ability to attract and retain members may be adversely affected. With respect to our planned expansion into additional markets, we will also need to establish our brand and to the extent we are not successful, our business in new markets would be adversely impacted.
Any failure to offer high-quality customer support may harm our relationships with our customers and could adversely affect our reputation, brand, business, financial condition and results of operations.
Through our marketing, advertising, and communications with our customers, we set the tone for our brand as aspirational but also within reach. We strive to create high levels of customer satisfaction through the experience provided by our team and representatives. The ease and reliability of our offerings, including our ability to provide high-quality customer support, helps us attract and retain customers. Customers depend on our account managers and member services team to resolve any issues relating to our products and services, such as scheduling changes and other updates to trip details and assistance with certain billing matters. Our ability to provide effective and timely support is largely dependent on our ability to attract and retain skilled employees who can support our customers and are sufficiently knowledgeable about our product and services. As we continue to grow our business and improve our platform, we will face challenges related to providing quality support at an increased scale. Any failure to provide efficient customer support, or a market perception that we do not maintain high-quality support, could adversely affect our reputation, brand, business, financial condition and results of operations.
If we are unable to adequately protect our intellectual property interests or are found to be infringing on intellectual property interests of others, we may incur significant expense and our business may be adversely affected.
Our intellectual property includes our trademarks, domain names, website, mobile and web applications, software (including our proprietary algorithms and data analytics engines), copyrights, trade secrets and inventions (whether or not patentable). We believe that our intellectual property plays an important role in protecting our brand and the competitiveness of our business. If we do not adequately protect our intellectual property, our brand and reputation may be adversely affected and our ability to compete effectively may be impaired.
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We protect our intellectual property through a combination of trademark, copyright, and trade secret laws, contracts and policies. Our efforts may not be sufficient or effective. For example, we do not have any issued patents and have not registered any of our copyrights. Moreover, we have registered our trademarks and domain names that we currently use in certain countries, but we may not be able to register them in other territories in which we may operate now or in the future. Further, we may be unable to prevent competitors from acquiring trademarks or domain names that are similar to or diminish the value of our intellectual property. In addition, it may be possible for other parties to copy or reverse engineer our applications or other technology offerings. Moreover, our proprietary algorithms, data analytics engines, or other software or trade secrets may be compromised by third-parties or our employees, which could cause us to lose any competitive advantage we may have from them.
In addition, our business is subject to the risk of third-parties infringing our intellectual property. We may not always be successful in securing protection for, or identifying or stopping infringements of, our intellectual property and we may need to resort to litigation in the future to enforce our rights in this regard. Any such litigation could result in significant costs and a diversion of resources. Further, such enforcement efforts may result in a ruling that our intellectual property rights are unenforceable.
Moreover, companies in the aviation and technology industries are frequently subject to litigation based on allegations of intellectual property infringement, misappropriation or other violations. As we expand and raise our profile, the likelihood of intellectual property claims being asserted against us grows. Further, we may acquire or introduce new technology offerings, which may increase our exposure to patent and other intellectual property claims. Any intellectual property claims asserted against us, whether or not having any merit, could be time-consuming and expensive to settle or litigate. If we are unsuccessful in defending such a claim, we may be required to pay substantial damages or could be subject to an injunction or agree to a settlement that may prevent us from using our intellectual property or making our offerings available to customers. Some intellectual property claims may require us to seek a license to continue our operations, and those licenses may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or may significantly increase our operating expenses. If we are unable to procure a license, we may be required to develop non-infringing technological alternatives, which could require significant time and expense. Any of these events could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
A delay or failure to identify and devise, invest in and implement certain important technology, business and other initiatives could have a material impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In order to operate our business, achieve our goals, and remain competitive, we continuously seek to identify and devise, invest in, implement and pursue technology, business and other important initiatives, such as those relating to aircraft fleet structuring, business processes, information technology, initiatives seeking to ensure high quality service experience and others.
Our business and the aircraft we operate are characterized by changing technology, introductions and enhancements of models of aircraft and services and shifting customer demands, including technology preferences. Our future growth and financial performance will depend in part upon our ability to develop, market and integrate new services and to accommodate the latest technological advances and customer preferences. In addition, the introduction of new technologies or services that compete with our product and services could result in our revenues decreasing over time. If we are unable to upgrade our operations or fleet with the latest technological advances in a timely manner, or at all, our business, financial condition and results of operations could suffer.
A failure in our technology or breaches of the security of our information technology infrastructure may adversely affect our business and financial condition and disrupt our customers’ businesses.
The performance and reliability of the technology that we and our third-party operators use is critical to our ability to compete effectively. A significant internal technological error or failure or large-scale external interruption in the technological infrastructures on which we and our third-party operators depend, such as power, telecommunications or the Internet, may disrupt our internal network. Any substantial, sustained or repeated failure of the technology that we or our third-party operators use could impact our ability to conduct our business, lower the utilization of our aircraft, and result in increased costs. Our and our third-party operators’ technological systems and
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related data may be vulnerable to a variety of sources of interruption due to events beyond our control, including natural disasters, terrorist attacks, telecommunications failures, computer viruses, hackers and other security issues.
In addition, as a part of our ordinary business operations, we collect and store sensitive data, including personally identifiable information of our employees and customers. Our information systems are subject to an increasing threat of continually evolving cybersecurity risks, as evidenced by a recent incident in which a cloud-based data storage system we maintain for customers was accessed by an intruder. On December 6, 2020, an unauthorized actor located outside of the U.S. gained access to certain files in the cloud-based storage system where certain of our flight management system customers (aircraft owners/operators) upload documents related to flights. Some of those documents contained personally identifiable information regarding flight passengers. We responded to the incident by implementing our incident response plan, remediating the vulnerability that enabled the data security breach, and engaging both internal resources as well as outside experts for ongoing mitigation of any adverse impact. Nevertheless, it is possible that individuals whose personal information was included in the documents involved could be subject to identity theft if their information is misused, which could trigger complaints and potential liability, including through class action litigation.
Methods used to obtain unauthorized access, disable or degrade service or sabotage systems are constantly evolving, and may be difficult to anticipate or to detect for long periods of time. We may not be able to prevent future data security breaches or unauthorized uses of data. A compromise of the technology systems we use resulting in the loss, disclosure, misappropriation of, or access to, employees’ or business partners’ information could result in legal claims or proceedings, liability or regulatory penalties under laws protecting the privacy of personally identifiable information, disruption to our operations and damage to our reputation, any, or all of which could adversely affect our business and financial condition.
We rely on third-party Internet, mobile, and other products and services to deliver our mobile and web applications and flight management system offerings, and any disruption of, or interference with, our use of those services could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and customers.
Our platform’s continuing and uninterrupted performance is critical to our success. That platform is dependent on the performance and reliability of Internet, mobile and other infrastructure services that are not under our control. For example, we currently host our platform, including our mobile and web-based applications and the UP FMS, and support our operations using a third-party provider of cloud infrastructure services. While we have engaged reputable vendors to provide these products or services, we do not have control over the operations of the facilities or systems used by our third-party providers. These facilities and systems may be vulnerable to damage or interruption from natural disasters, cybersecurity attacks, human error, terrorist attacks, power outages, pandemics and similar events or acts of misconduct. In addition, any changes in one of our third-party service provider’s service levels may adversely affect our ability to meet the requirements of our customers or needs of our employees. While we believe we have implemented reasonable backup and disaster recovery plans, we have experienced, and expect that in the future we will experience, interruptions, delays and outages in service and availability from time to time due to a variety of factors, including infrastructure changes, human or software errors, website hosting disruptions, capacity constraints or external factors beyond our control. Sustained or repeated system failures would reduce the attractiveness of our offerings and could disrupt our customers’, suppliers’, third-party vendors and aircraft providers businesses. It may become increasingly difficult to maintain and improve our performance, especially during peak usage times, as we expand our products and service offerings. Any negative publicity or user dissatisfaction arising from these disruptions could harm our reputation and brand, may adversely affect the usage of our offerings, and could harm our business, financial condition and results of operation.
We rely on third-parties maintaining open marketplaces to distribute our mobile and web applications and to provide the software we use in certain of our products and offerings, including the provision of our flight management system. If such third-parties interfere with the distribution of our products or offerings, with our use of such software, or with the interoperability of our platform with such software, our business would be adversely affected.
Our platform’s mobile applications rely on third-parties maintaining open marketplaces, including the Apple App Store and Google Play, which make applications available for download. We cannot be assured that the
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marketplaces through which we distribute our applications will maintain their current structures or that such marketplaces will not charge us fees to list our applications for download.
We rely upon certain third-party software and integrations with certain third-party applications, including Salesforce.com, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle and others, to provide our platform and products and service offerings. As our offerings expand and evolve, we may use additional third-party software or have an increasing number of integrations with other third-party applications, software, products and services. Third-party applications, software, products and services are constantly evolving, and we may not be able to maintain or modify our platform, including our mobile and web-based applications and UP FMS, to ensure its compatibility with third-party offerings following development changes. Moreover, some of our competitors or technology partners may take actions which disrupt the interoperability of our offerings with their own products or services, or exert strong business influence on our ability to, and the terms on which we, operate our platform and provide our products and service offerings to customers.
In addition, if any of our third-party providers cease to provide access to the third-party software that we use, do not provide access to such software on terms that we believe to be attractive or reasonable, do not provide us with the most current version of such software, modify their products, standards or terms of use in a manner that degrades the functionality or performance of our platform or is otherwise unsatisfactory to us or gives preferential treatment to competitive products or services, we may be required to seek comparable software from other sources, which may be more expensive or inferior, or may not be available at all. Any of these events could adversely affect business, financial condition and results of operations.
Because our software could be used to collect and store personal information, privacy concerns in the territories in which we operate could result in additional costs and liabilities to us or inhibit sales of our software.
The regulatory framework for privacy issues worldwide is rapidly evolving and is likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future. Many government bodies and agencies have adopted or are considering adopting laws and regulations regarding the collection, use, storage and disclosure of personal information and breach notification procedures. We are also required to comply with laws, rules and regulations relating to data security. Interpretation of these laws, rules and regulations and their application to our software and professional services in applicable jurisdictions is ongoing and cannot be fully determined at this time.
In the U.S., these include rules and regulations promulgated under the authority of the Federal Trade Commission, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the CCPA and other state and federal laws relating to privacy and data security. By way of example, the CCPA requires covered businesses to provide new disclosures to California residents, provide them new ways to opt-out of certain disclosures of personal information, and allows for a new cause of action for data breaches. It includes a framework that includes potential statutory damages and private rights of action. There is some uncertainty as to how the CCPA, and similar privacy laws emerging in other states, could impact our business as it depends on how such laws will be interpreted. As we expand our operations, compliance with privacy laws may increase our operating costs.
Our obligations in connection with our contractual obligations could impair our liquidity and thereby harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We have significant long-term lease obligations primarily relating to our aircraft fleet. On December 31, 2021, we had 100 aircraft under operating leases, with an average remaining lease term of approximately 3.4 years. As of December 31, 2021, future minimum lease payments due under all long-term operating leases were approximately $156.6 million. Our ability to pay our contractual obligations will depend on our operating performance, cash flow and our ability to secure adequate financing, which will in turn depend on, among other things, the success of our current business strategy, U.S. and global economic conditions, the availability and cost of financing, as well as general economic and political conditions and other factors that are, to some extent, beyond our control.
Although our cash flows from operations and our available capital, including the proceeds from financing transactions, have been sufficient to meet our obligations and commitments to date, our liquidity has been, and may in the future be, negatively affected by the risk factors discussed in this Annual Report. If our liquidity is materially diminished, our cash flow available to fund working capital requirements, capital expenditures and business development efforts may be materially and adversely affected.
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Our potential for a non-investment grade credit ratings and the availability of our assets as collateral for future loans or other indebtedness, which available collateral would be reduced under other future liquidity-raising transactions, may make it difficult for us to raise additional capital if we are required to meet our liquidity needs on acceptable terms, or at all.
We cannot be assured that our operations will generate sufficient cash flow to make any required payments, or that we will be able to obtain financing to make capital expenditures that we believe are necessary to fulfill our strategic directives. The amount of our fixed obligations could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Our ability to obtain financing or access capital markets may be limited.
There are a number of factors that may limit our ability to raise financing or access capital markets in the future, including future debt and future contractual obligations, our liquidity and credit status, our operating cash flows, the market conditions in the aviation industry, U.S. and global economic conditions, the general state of the capital markets and the financial position of the major providers of aircraft and other aviation industry financing. We also may not, without the consent of Delta, issue any equity or equity-linked securities to certain domestic commercial air carriers. We cannot assure you that we will be able to source external financing for our capital needs, and if we are unable to source financing on acceptable terms, or unable to source financing at all, our business could be materially adversely affected. To the extent we finance our activities with debt, we may become subject to financial and other covenants that may restrict our ability to pursue our business strategy or otherwise constrain our growth and operations.
We face a concentration of credit risk.
We maintain our cash and cash equivalent balances at financial or other intermediary institutions. The combined account balances at each institution typically exceeds Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) insurance coverage of $250,000 per depositor, and, as a result, we face a concentration of credit risk related to amounts on deposit in excess of FDIC insurance coverage. As of December 31, 2021, substantially all of our cash and cash equivalent balances held at financial institutions exceeded FDIC insured limits. Any event that would cause a material portion of our cash and cash equivalents at financial institutions to be uninsured by the FDIC could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Aviation businesses are often affected by factors beyond their control including: air traffic congestion at airports; airport slot restrictions; air traffic control inefficiencies; increased and changing security measures; changing regulatory and governmental requirements; new or changing travel-related taxes; any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Like other aviation companies, our business is affected by factors beyond our control, including air traffic congestion at airports, airport slot restrictions, air traffic control inefficiencies, increased and changing security measures, changing regulatory and governmental requirements, new or changing travel-related taxes. Factors that cause flight delays frustrate passengers and increase operating costs and decrease revenues, which in turn could adversely affect profitability. Any general reduction in flight volumes could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In the U.S., the federal government singularly controls all U.S. airspace, and aviation operators are completely dependent on the FAA to operate that airspace in a safe, efficient and affordable manner. The expansion of our business into international markets will result in a greater degree of interaction with the regulatory authorities of the foreign countries in which we may operate. The air traffic control system, which is operated by the FAA, faces challenges in managing the growing demand for U.S. air travel. U.S. and foreign air-traffic controllers often rely on outdated technologies that routinely overwhelm the system and compel aviation operators to fly inefficient, indirect routes resulting in delays and increased operational cost. In addition, there are currently proposals before Congress that could potentially lead to the privatization of the U.S. air traffic control system, which could adversely affect our business. Further, implementation of the Next Generation Air Transport System by the FAA would result in changes to aircraft routings and flight paths that could lead to increased noise complaints and lawsuits, resulting in increased costs.
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Extreme weather, natural disasters and other adverse events could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Adverse weather conditions and natural disasters, such as hurricanes, winter snowstorms or earthquakes, can cause flight cancellations or significant delays. Cancellations or delays due to adverse weather conditions or natural disasters, air traffic control problems or inefficiencies, breaches in security or other factors may affect us to a greater degree than our competitors who may be able to recover more quickly from these events, and therefore could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition to a greater degree than other air carriers. Any general reduction in passenger traffic could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We are subject to risks associated with climate change, including the potential increased impacts of severe weather events on our operations and infrastructure.
All climate change-related regulatory activity and developments may adversely affect our business and financial results by requiring us to reduce our emissions, make capital investments to modernize certain aspects of our operations, purchase carbon offsets, or otherwise pay for our emissions. Such activity may also impact us indirectly by increasing our operating costs and adversely affecting our Adjusted Contribution Margin.
The potential physical effects of climate change, such as increased frequency and severity of storms, floods, fires, fog, mist, freezing conditions, sea-level rise and other climate-related events, could affect our operations, infrastructure, and financial results. Operational impacts, such as the delay or cancellation of flights, could result in loss of revenue. In addition, certain of our terminals are in locations susceptible to the impacts of storm-related flooding and sea-level rise, which could result in costs and loss of revenue. We could incur significant costs to improve the climate resiliency of our infrastructure and otherwise prepare for, respond to, and mitigate such physical effects of climate change. We are not able to accurately predict the materiality of any potential losses or costs associated with the physical effects of climate change.
Our business is primarily focused on certain targeted geographic regions making us vulnerable to risks associated with having geographically concentrated operations.
Our customer base is primarily concentrated in certain geographic regions of the U.S., including the northeast, southeast, southwestern and western regions. As a result, our business, financial condition and results of operations are susceptible to regional economic downturns and other regional factors, including state regulations and budget constraints and severe weather conditions, catastrophic events or other disruptions. As we seek to expand in our existing markets, opportunities for growth within these regions will become more limited and the geographic concentration of our business may increase.
The operation of aircraft is subject to various risks, and failure to maintain an acceptable safety record may have an adverse impact on our ability to obtain and retain customers.
The operation of aircraft is subject to various risks, including catastrophic disasters, crashes, mechanical failures and collisions, which may result in loss of life, personal injury and/or damage to property and equipment. We may experience accidents in the future. These risks could endanger the safety of our customers, our personnel, third-parties, equipment, cargo and other property (both ours and that of third-parties), as well as the environment. If any of these events were to occur, we could experience loss of revenue, termination of customer contracts, higher insurance rates, litigation, regulatory investigations and enforcement actions (including potential grounding of our fleet and suspension or revocation of our operating authorities) and damage to our reputation and customer relationships. In addition, to the extent an accident occurs with an aircraft we operate or charter, we could be held liable for resulting damages, which may involve claims from injured passengers and survivors of deceased passengers. There can be no assurance that the amount of our insurance coverage available in the event of such losses would be adequate to cover such losses, or that we would not be forced to bear substantial losses from such events, regardless of our insurance coverage. Moreover, any aircraft accident or incident, even if fully insured, and whether involving us or other private aircraft operators, could create a public perception that we are less safe or reliable than other private aircraft operators, which could cause our customers to lose confidence in us and switch to other private aircraft operators or other means of transportation. In addition, any aircraft accident or incident,
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whether involving us or other private aircraft operators, could also affect the public’s view of industry safety, which may reduce the amount of trust by our customers.
We incur considerable costs to maintain the quality of (i) our safety program, (ii) our training programs and (iii) our fleet of aircraft. We cannot guarantee that these costs will not increase. Likewise, we cannot guarantee that our efforts will provide an adequate level of safety or an acceptable safety record. If we are unable to maintain an acceptable safety record, we may not be able to retain existing customers or attract new customers, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Failure to comply with regulatory requirements related to the maintenance of our aircraft and associated operations may result in enforcement actions, including revocation or suspension of our operating authorities in the U.S. and potentially other countries.
Any damage to our reputation or brand image could adversely affect our business or financial results.
Maintaining a good reputation globally is critical to our business. Our reputation or brand image could be adversely impacted by, among other things, any failure to maintain high ethical, social and environmental sustainability practices for all of our operations and activities, our impact on the environment, public pressure from investors or policy groups to change our policies, such as movements to institute a “living wage,” customer perceptions of our advertising campaigns, sponsorship arrangements or marketing programs, customer perceptions of our use of social media, or customer perceptions of statements made by us, our employees and executives, agents or other third-parties. In addition, we operate in a highly visible industry that has significant exposure to social media. Negative publicity, including as a result of misconduct by our customers, vendors or employees, can spread rapidly through social media. Should we not respond in a timely and appropriate manner to address negative publicity, our brand and reputation may be significantly harmed. Damage to our reputation or brand image or loss of customer confidence in our services could adversely affect our business and financial results as well as require additional resources to rebuild or repair our reputation.
Moreover, the outbreak and spread of COVID-19 have adversely impacted consumer perceptions of the health and safety of travel, and in particular airline travel, and these negative perceptions could continue even after the pandemic subsides. Actual or perceived risk of infection on our flights has had, and may continue to have, a material adverse effect on the public's perception of us, which has harmed, and may continue to harm, our reputation and business. We have taken various measures to reassure our team members and the traveling public of the safety of air travel, including requirements that passengers wear face coverings, the provision of protective equipment for team members and enhanced cleaning procedures onboard aircraft and in airports. We expect that we will continue to incur COVID-19 related costs as we sanitize aircraft, implement additional hygiene-related protocols and take other actions to limit the threat of infection among our employees and passengers. However, we cannot assure that these or any other actions we might take in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be sufficient to restore the confidence of consumers in the safety of air travel.
We could suffer losses and adverse publicity stemming from any accident involving our aircraft models operated by third-parties.
Certain aircraft models that we operate have experienced accidents while operated by third-parties. If other operators experience accidents with aircraft models that we operate, obligating us to take such aircraft out of service until the cause of the accident is determined and rectified, we might lose revenues and might lose customers. It is also possible that the FAA or other regulatory bodies in another country could ground the aircraft and restrict it from flying. In addition, safety issues experienced by a particular model of aircraft could result in customers refusing to use that particular aircraft model or a regulatory body grounding that particular aircraft model. The value of the aircraft model might also be permanently reduced in the secondary market if the model were to be considered less desirable for future service. Such accidents or safety issues related to aircraft models that we operate could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
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Terrorist activities or warnings have dramatically impacted the aviation industry and will likely continue to do so.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath have negatively impacted the aviation business in general. If additional terrorist attacks are launched against the aviation industry, there will be lasting consequences of the attacks, which may include loss of life, property damage, increased security and insurance costs, increased concerns about future terrorist attacks, increased government regulation and airport delays due to heightened security. We cannot provide any assurance that these events will not harm the aviation industry generally or our operations or financial condition in particular.
Legal and Regulatory Risks Relating to Our Business
We are subject to significant governmental regulation and changes in government regulations imposing additional requirements and restrictions on our operations could increase our operating costs and result in service delays and disruptions.
All interstate air carriers, including us, are subject to regulation by the DOT, the FAA and other governmental agencies, including the DHS, the TSA, the CBP and others. The laws enforced by these and other agencies impose substantial costs on us, may reduce air travel demand, and also may restrict the manner in which we conduct our business now or in the future, resulting in a material adverse effect on our operations. We also incur substantial costs in maintaining our current certifications and otherwise complying with the laws to which we are subject. An adverse decision by a federal agency may have a material adverse effect on our operations, such as an FAA decision to ground, or require time consuming inspections of or maintenance on, all or any of our aircraft. Our business may also be affected if government agencies shut down for any reason or if there is significant automation or another operational disruption, such as those attributed to Air Traffic Control or weather.
In addition, as described under the caption entitled “— Delaware law and our Organizational Documents contain certain provisions, including anti-takeover provisions that limit the ability of stockholders to take certain actions and could delay or discourage takeover attempts that stockholders may consider favorable,” we are also subject to restrictions imposed by federal law on foreign ownership of U.S. airlines and oversight by the DOT in maintaining our status as a U.S. Citizen (as such term is set forth in Title 49, U.S. Code, Section 40102 and administrative interpretations thereof issued by the DOT or its predecessor or successors, or as the same may be from time to time amended). A failure to comply with or changes to these restrictions may materially adversely affect our business.
Revocation of permits, approvals, authorizations and licenses.
Our business also requires a variety of federal, state and local permits, approvals, authorizations and licenses. Our business depends on the maintenance of such permits, approvals, authorizations and licenses. Our business is subject to regulations and requirements and may be adversely affected if we are unable to comply with existing regulations or requirements or if changes in applicable regulations or requirements occur.
We are subject to various environmental and noise laws and regulations, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We are subject to increasingly stringent federal, state, local and foreign laws, regulations and ordinances relating to the protection of the environment and noise, including those relating to emissions to the air, discharges (including storm water and de-icing fluid discharges) to surface and subsurface waters, safe drinking water and the use, management, disposal and release of, and exposure to, hazardous substances, oils and waste materials. We are or may be subject to new or proposed laws and regulations that may have a direct effect (or indirect effect through our third-party specialists or airport facilities at which we operate) on our operations. Any such existing, future, new or potential laws and regulations could have an adverse impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Similarly, we are subject to environmental laws and regulations that require us to investigate and remediate soil or groundwater to meet certain remediation standards. Under certain laws, generators of waste materials, and current
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and former owners or operators of facilities, can be subject to liability for investigation and remediation costs at locations that have been identified as requiring response actions. Liability under these laws may be strict, joint and several, meaning that we could be liable for the costs of cleaning up environmental contamination regardless of fault or the amount of wastes directly attributable to us.
Environmental regulation and liabilities, including new or developing laws and regulations, or our initiatives in response to pressure from our stakeholders may increase our costs of operations and adversely affect us.
In recent years, governments, customers, suppliers, employees and other of our stakeholders have increasingly focused on climate change, carbon emissions, and energy use. Laws and regulations that curb the use of conventional energy or require the use of renewable fuels or renewable sources of energy, such as wind or solar power, could result in a reduction in demand for hydrocarbon-based fuels such as oil and natural gas. In addition, governments could pass laws, regulations or taxes that increase the cost of such fuels, thereby decreasing demand for our services and also increasing the costs of our operations by our third-party aircraft operators. Other laws or pressure from our stakeholders may adversely affect our business and financial results by requiring, or otherwise causing, us to reduce our emissions, make capital investments to modernize certain aspects of our operations, purchase carbon offsets or otherwise pay for our emissions. Such activity may also impact us indirectly by increasing our operating costs. More stringent environmental laws, regulations or enforcement policies, as well as motivation to maintain our reputation with our key stakeholders, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The issuance of operating restrictions applicable to one of the fleet types we operate could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Our owned and leased fleet is comprised of a limited number of aircraft types, including the King Air 350i, Hawker 400XP, Citation Excel/XLS and Citation X aircraft. The issuance of FAA or manufacturer directives restricting or prohibiting the use of any one or more of the aircraft types we operate could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We may become involved in litigation that may materially adversely affect us.
From time to time, we may become involved in various legal proceedings relating to matters incidental to the ordinary course of our business, including employment, commercial, product liability, class action, whistleblower and other litigation and claims, and governmental and other regulatory investigations and enforcement proceedings. Such matters can be time-consuming, divert management attention and resources, cause us to incur significant expenses or liability and/or require us to change our business practices. Because of the potential risks, expenses and uncertainties of litigation, we may, from time to time, settle disputes, even where we believe that we have meritorious claims or defenses. Because litigation is inherently unpredictable, the results of any of these actions may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Risks Relating to Ownership of Our Securities and Being a Public Company
Our Warrants are accounted for as liabilities and the changes in value of our Warrants could have a material effect on our financial results.
On April 12, 2021, the Acting Director of the Division of Corporation Finance and Acting Chief Accountant of the SEC together issued a statement regarding the accounting and reporting considerations for warrants issued by special purpose acquisition companies entitled “Staff Statement on Accounting and Reporting Considerations for Warrants Issued by Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (“SPACs”)” (the “SEC Statement”). Specifically, the SEC Statement focused on certain settlement terms and provisions related to certain tender offers following a business combination, which terms are similar to those contained in the warrant agreement between Continental Stock Transfer & Trust Company, as warrant agent, and us (the “Warrant Agreement”), which govern our Warrants. As a result of the SEC Statement, prior to the Business Combination, Aspirational reevaluated the accounting treatment of its 7,991,544 Public Warrants and 4,529,950 Private Warrants (collectively the “Warrants”) and determined to classify the Warrants as derivative liabilities measured at fair value, with changes in fair value each period reported in earnings.
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As a result, included on our consolidated balance sheet as of December 31, 2021 contained in this Annual Report are derivative liabilities related to embedded features contained within the Warrants. Financial Accounting Standards Board Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) 815, Derivatives and Hedging provides for the remeasurement of the fair value of such derivatives at each balance sheet date, with a resulting non-cash gain or loss related to the change in the fair value being recognized in earnings in the statement of operations. As a result of the recurring fair value measurement, our financial statements and results of operations may fluctuate quarterly, based on factors, which are outside of our control. Due to the recurring fair value measurement, we expect that we will recognize non-cash gains or losses on our Warrants each reporting period and that the amount of such gains or losses could be material.
We may amend the terms of the Warrants in a manner that may be adverse to holders of Public Warrants with the approval by the holders of at least 65% of the then outstanding Public Warrants.
The Warrants were issued in registered form under the Warrant Agreement between Continental Stock Transfer & Trust Company, as warrant agent, and us. The Warrant Agreement provides that (a) the terms of the Warrants may be amended without the consent of any holder for the purpose of (i) curing any ambiguity or correct any mistake or defective provision or (ii) adding or changing any provisions with respect to matters or questions arising under the Warrant Agreement as the parties to the Warrant Agreement may deem necessary or desirable and that the parties deem to not adversely affect the rights of the registered holders of the Warrants and (b) all other modifications or amendments require the vote or written consent of at least 65% of the then outstanding Public Warrants and, solely with respect to any amendment to the terms of the Private Warrants or any provision of the Warrant Agreement with respect to the Private Warrants, at least 65% of the then outstanding Private Warrants. Accordingly, we may amend the terms of the Public Warrants in a manner adverse to a holder if holders of at least 65% of the then outstanding Public Warrants approve of such amendment. Although our ability to amend the terms of the Public Warrants with the consent of at least 65% of the then outstanding Public Warrants is unlimited, examples of such amendments could be amendments to, among other things, increase the exercise price of the Warrants, shorten the exercise period or decrease the number of shares of Class A common stock purchasable upon exercise of a Warrant.
We will have broad discretion over the use of proceeds from the exercise of our Warrants and options, and we may invest or spend the proceeds in ways with which investors do not agree and in ways that may not yield a return.
We will have broad discretion over the use of proceeds from the exercises of our Warrants and options. Investors may not agree with our decisions, and our use of the proceeds may not yield a return on investment. We intend to use these net proceeds for general corporate purposes, which may include capital expenditures and working capital. Our use of these proceeds may differ substantially from our current plans. Our failure to apply the net proceeds from the exercises of Warrants and options effectively could impair our ability to pursue our growth strategy or could require us to raise additional capital.
There is no guarantee that our Warrants will be in the money, and they may expire worthless and the terms of our Warrants may be amended.
The exercise price for our Warrants is $11.50 per share of Class A common stock. There is no guarantee that the Warrants will be in the money at any given time prior to their expiration. If the trading price of our Class A common stock declines, the Warrants may expire worthless.
We may redeem your unexpired Warrants prior to their exercise at a time that is disadvantageous to you, thereby making your Warrants worthless.
We have the ability to redeem the outstanding Warrants at any time after they become exercisable and prior to their expiration, at a price of  $0.01 per Warrant if, among other things, the last reported sale price of a share of Class A common stock for any 20 trading days within a 30-trading day period ending on the third trading day prior to the date on which we send the notice of redemption to the Warrant holders (the “Reference Value”) equals or exceeds $18.00 per share (as adjusted for adjustments to the number of shares issuable upon exercise or the exercise price of a Warrant). If and when the Warrants become redeemable by us, we may exercise our redemption right even if we
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are unable to register or qualify the underlying securities for sale under all applicable state securities laws. As a result, we may redeem the Warrants as set forth above even if the holders are otherwise unable to exercise the Warrants. Redemption of the outstanding Warrants as described above could force you to: (1) exercise your Warrants and pay the exercise price therefor at a time when it may be disadvantageous for you to do so; (2) sell your Warrants at the then-current market price when you might otherwise wish to hold your Warrants; or (3) accept the nominal redemption price which, at the time the outstanding Warrants are called for redemption, we expect would be substantially less than the market value of your Warrants. Except in limited circumstances, none of the Private Warrants will be redeemable by us (so long as they are held by our Sponsor or its permitted transferees).
In addition, we have the ability to redeem the outstanding Warrants at any time after they become exercisable and prior to their expiration, at a price of $0.10 per Warrant if, among other things, the Reference Value equals or exceeds $10.00 per share (as adjusted for adjustments to the number of shares issuable upon exercise or the exercise price of a Warrant). In such a case, the holders will be able to exercise their Warrants prior to redemption for a number of shares of Class A common stock determined based on the redemption date and the fair market value of our Class A common stock. The value received upon exercise of the Warrants (1) may be less than the value the holders would have received if they had exercised their Warrants at a later time where the underlying share price is higher and (2) may not compensate the holders for the value of the Warrants, including because the number of ordinary shares received is capped at 0.361 Class A common stock per Warrant (subject to adjustment) irrespective of the remaining life of the Warrants.
Prior to the Business Combination, Aspirational identified a material weakness in internal control over financial reporting and we may identify additional material weaknesses in the future or otherwise fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls, which may result in material misstatements of our financial statements or cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations.
The SEC rules define a material weakness as a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of a registrant’s financial statements will not be prevented or detected and corrected on a timely basis. In connection with an audit of Aspirational’s financial statements prior to the consummation of the Business Combination for the year ended December 31, 2020, Aspirational identified a defined material weakness in its internal control over financial reporting due to a lack of controls to identify and record expenses that require accrual to ensure liabilities in the financial statements are reported completely and accurately. Following the issuance of the SEC Statement, on May 4, 2021, after consultation with Aspirational’s independent registered public accounting firm, Aspirational’s management and Aspirational’s audit committee concluded that, in light of the SEC Statement, it was appropriate to restate (i) certain items on Aspirational’s previously issued audited balance sheet as of September 25, 2020, which was related to Aspirational’s initial public offering, (ii) Aspirational’s unaudited quarterly financial statements as of September 30, 2020 and for the period from July 7, 2020 (inception) through September 30, 2020 and (iii) Aspirational’s audited financial statements as of December 31, 2020 and for the period from July 7, 2020 (inception) through December 31, 2020 (collectively, the “Restatement”). See “— Our Warrants are accounted for as liabilities and the changes in value of our Warrants could have a material effect on our financial results.” Due solely to the events that led to the Restatement, Aspirational concluded that it had a material weakness in its internal controls over financial reporting.
We have implemented measures to remediate the material weakness and continue to evaluate steps to enhance our internal controls over financial reporting.
Effective internal controls are necessary for us to provide reliable financial statements and prevent fraud. If we identify any new material weakness in the future, any such newly identified material weakness could limit our ability to prevent or detect a misstatement of our accounts or disclosures that could result in a material misstatement of our annual or interim financial statements. In such case, we may be unable to maintain compliance with securities law requirements regarding timely filing of periodic reports in addition to applicable stock exchange listing requirements, investors may lose confidence in our financial reporting and our stock price may decline as a result. We cannot assure you that the measures we have taken to date, or any measures we may take in the future, will be sufficient to avoid potential future material weaknesses.
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In addition, as a result of such material weakness, the Restatement, the change in accounting for the Warrants, and other matters raised or that may in the future be raised by the SEC, we face the potential for litigation or other disputes which may include, among others, claims invoking the federal and state securities laws, contractual claims or other claims arising from the Restatement and material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting and the preparation of our financial statements. As of the date of this Annual Report, we have no knowledge of any such litigation or dispute. However, we can provide no assurance that such litigation or dispute will not arise in the future. Any such litigation or dispute, whether successful or not, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Certain of our stockholders will experience immediate dilution as a consequence of future issuances of Class A common stock pursuant to the 2021 LTIP, as part of the Earnout Shares, due to the cash exercise of WUP stock options and due to the exchange of any WUP profits interests for shares of Class A common stock at a level above the intrinsic value of the WUP profits interests.
As of December 31, 2021, there were 245,834,569 shares of Class A common stock issued and outstanding, which excludes the possible future issuance of any Class A common stock as Earnout Shares and in connection with the exercise of any Warrants. If stock options are cash exercised, or if due to appreciation of our Class A common stock, WUP profits interests become exchangeable for a greater amount of shares of Class A common stock, the percentage ownership held by existing stockholders in Wheels Up will be different.
In addition, our employees and consultants hold and are expected to be granted equity awards under the Wheels Up Experience Inc. 2021 Long-Term Incentive Plan (“2021 LTIP”). Existing stockholders will experience additional dilution when those equity awards and purchase rights become vested and settled or exercisable, as applicable, for shares of our Class A common stock.
The issuance of additional Class A common stock may adversely affect prevailing market prices for our shares of Class A common stock and Warrants.
The price of our Class A common stock and Warrants may be volatile.
The price of our Class A common stock as well as our Warrants may fluctuate due to a variety of factors, including:
changes in the industries in which we and our customers operate;
changes in general market conditions;
changes in macro-economic conditions, including the price of fuel;
effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. and global economy;
developments involving our competitors, such as material announcements;
changes in laws and regulations affecting our business;
variations in our operating performance and the performance of our competitors in general;
changes in our level of indebtedness and other obligations;
changes in our credit ratings;
actual or anticipated fluctuations in our quarterly or annual operating results;
publication of research reports by securities analysts about us or our competitors or our industry;
the public’s reaction to our press releases, our other public announcements and our filings with the SEC;
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actions by stockholders, including the sale by the PIPE Investors of any of their shares of our common stock;
increases or decreases in reported holdings by insiders or significant stockholders;
fluctuations in trading volume;
additions and departures of key personnel;
commencement of, or involvement in, litigation involving us;
changes in our capital structure, such as future issuances of securities or the incurrence of debt;
the volume of shares of our common stock available for public sale; and
general economic and political conditions, such as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, recessions, interest rates, local and national elections, fuel prices, international currency fluctuations, corruption, political instability and acts of war or terrorism.
These market and industry factors may materially reduce the market price of our Class A common stock and our Warrants regardless of our operating performance.
We do not intend to pay cash dividends for the foreseeable future.
We currently intend to retain our future earnings, if any, to finance the further development and expansion of our business and do not intend to pay cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any future determination to pay dividends will be at the discretion of our Board and will depend on our financial condition, results of operations, capital requirements, restrictions contained in future agreements and financing instruments, business prospects and such other factors as our Board deems relevant.
If analysts do not publish research about our business or if they publish inaccurate or unfavorable research, our stock price and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our Class A common stock will depend in part on the research and reports that analysts publish about our business. We do not have any control over these analysts. If one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrade our Class A common stock or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the price of our Class A common stock would likely decline. If few analysts cover us, demand for our Class A common stock could decrease and our Class A common stock price and trading volume may decline. Similar results may occur if one or more of these analysts stop covering us in the future or fail to publish reports on us regularly.
We may be subject to securities litigation, which is expensive and could divert management attention.
The market price of our Class A common stock may be volatile and, in the past, companies that have experienced volatility in the market price of their stock have been subject to securities class action litigation. We may be the target of this type of litigation in the future. Securities litigation against us could result in substantial costs and divert management’s attention from other business concerns, which could seriously harm our business.
Future resales of our Class A common stock may cause the market price of our securities to drop significantly, even if our business is doing well.
Sales of a substantial number of shares of our Class A common stock in the public market or the perception in the market that the holders of a large number of shares intend to sell shares, could reduce the market price of our Class A common stock. On January 9, 2022, the lock-up restrictions applicable to securities held by certain of our stockholders following the Business Combination expired. The sale or possibility of sale of these shares could have the effect of increasing the volatility in our Class A common stock price or the market price of our Class A common stock could decline if the holders of currently restricted shares sell them or are perceived by the market as intending to sell them.
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The obligations associated with being a public company involve significant expenses and require significant resources and management attention, which may divert from our business operations.
As a public company, we are subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the “Sarbanes-Oxley Act”). The Exchange Act requires the filing of annual, quarterly and current reports with respect to a public company’s business and financial condition. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires, among other things, that a public company establish and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting. As a result, we will incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we did not previously incur. Our entire management team and many of our other employees will need to devote substantial time to compliance and may not effectively or efficiently manage our transition into a public company.
These rules and regulations will result in us incurring substantial legal and financial compliance costs and will make some activities more time-consuming and costly. For example, these rules and regulations will likely make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and it may be required to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. As a result, it may be difficult for us to attract and retain qualified people to serve on our Board, its committees or as executive officers.
Delaware law and our Organizational Documents contain certain provisions, including anti-takeover provisions that limit the ability of stockholders to take certain actions and could delay or discourage takeover attempts that stockholders may consider favorable.
Our certificate of incorporation (“Certificate of Incorporation”) and our bylaws (“Bylaws” and together with the Certificate of Incorporation, our “Organizational Documents”) and the General Corporation Law of the State of Delaware (the “DGCL”) contain provisions that could have the effect of rendering more difficult, delaying or preventing an acquisition that stockholders may consider favorable, including transactions in which stockholders might otherwise receive a premium for their shares. These provisions could also limit the price that investors might be willing to pay for shares of our Class A common stock, and therefore depress the trading price of our Class A common stock. These provisions could also make it difficult for stockholders to take certain actions, including electing directors who are not nominated by the current members of our Board or taking other corporate actions, including effecting changes in our management. Among other things, our Organizational Documents include provisions regarding:
providing for a classified board of directors with staggered, three-year terms;
the ability of our Board to issue shares of preferred stock, including “blank check” preferred stock and to determine the price and other terms of those shares, including preferences and voting rights, without stockholder approval, which could be used to significantly dilute the ownership of a hostile acquirer;
our Certificate of Incorporation prohibits cumulative voting in the election of directors, which limits the ability of minority stockholders to elect director candidates;
the limitation of the liability of, and the indemnification of, our directors and officers;
the ability of our Board to amend our Bylaws, which may allow our Board to take additional actions to prevent an unsolicited takeover and inhibit the ability of an acquirer to amend our Bylaws to facilitate an unsolicited takeover attempt; and
advance notice procedures with which stockholders must comply to nominate candidates to our Board or to propose matters to be acted upon at a stockholders’ meeting, which could preclude stockholders from bringing matters before annual or special meetings of stockholders and delay changes in our Board and also may discourage or deter a potential acquirer from conducting a solicitation of proxies to elect the acquirer’s own slate of directors or otherwise attempting to obtain control of us. These provisions, alone or together, could delay or prevent hostile takeovers and changes in control or changes in our Board or management.

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The provisions of our Certificate of Incorporation requiring exclusive forum in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware for certain types of lawsuits may have the effect of discouraging certain lawsuits, including derivative lawsuits and lawsuits against our directors and officers, by limiting plaintiffs’ ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that they find favorable.
Our Certificate of Incorporation provides that, to the fullest extent permitted by law, and unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware (or, in the event that such court does not have jurisdiction, the federal district court for the District of Delaware or other state courts of the State of Delaware) will be the sole and exclusive forum for any claims made by any stockholder (including a beneficial owner) for (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, (ii) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any director, officer or other employee to us or our stockholders, (iii) any action asserting a claim against us, our directors, officers or employees arising pursuant to any provision of the DGCL or our Bylaws or our Certificate of Incorporation (as either may be amended from time to time), (iv) any action asserting a claim against us, our directors, officers or employees governed by the internal affairs doctrine or (v) any action asserting an “internal corporate claim” as that term is defined in Section 115 of the DGCL. Notwithstanding the foregoing, our Certificate of Incorporation provides that the general exclusive forum provision will not apply to suits brought to enforce a duty or liability created by the Securities Act or the Exchange Act. Instead, our Certificate of Incorporation provides that federal district courts will be the sole and exclusive forum for claims under the Securities Act. In addition, Section 27 of the Exchange Act creates exclusive federal jurisdiction over all suits brought to enforce any duty or liability created by the Exchange Act or the rules and regulations thereunder.
These provisions may have the effect of discouraging certain lawsuits, including derivative lawsuits and lawsuits against our directors and officers, by limiting plaintiffs’ ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that they find favorable. The enforceability of similar choice of forum provisions in other companies’ certificates of incorporation has been challenged in legal proceedings, and it is possible that, in connection with any applicable action brought against us, a court could find the choice of forum provisions contained in our Certificate of Incorporation to be inapplicable or unenforceable in such action.
Our Organizational Documents include provisions limiting voting by non-U.S. Citizens.
To comply with restrictions imposed by federal law on foreign ownership of U.S. airlines, our Organizational Documents restrict voting of shares of our capital stock by non-U.S. Citizens. The restrictions imposed by federal law currently require that no more than 25% of our stock be voted, directly or indirectly, by persons who are not U.S. Citizens, and that our chief executive officer, president, at least two-thirds of our officers and at least two-thirds of the members of our Board be U.S. Citizens. Our Bylaws provide that if the number of shares of our capital stock owned or controlled by non-U.S. Citizens exceed 25% of the voting power of our capital stock (the “Ownership Threshold”), the voting rights of the capital stock owned or controlled by non-U.S. Citizens and not registered on a separate stock record (the “Foreign Stock Record”) at the time of any vote or action will be suspended. The suspension of voting power will be terminated upon the earlier of (i) the shares are transferred to a U.S. Citizen and (ii) the registration of the shares on the Foreign Stock Record.
The Foreign Stock Record is maintained by our transfer agent. It is the duty of each stockholder that is not a U.S. Citizen to register his, her or its shares of capital stock as a non-U.S. Citizen. We and our transfer agent will not permit the number of shares entered on the Foreign Stock Exchange to exceed the Ownership Threshold. If the number of shares on the Foreign Stock Record exceeds the Ownership Threshold, each stockholder with capital stock registered on the Foreign Stock Record will have their voting rights suspended on a pro rata basis such that the voting rights afforded to the stock registered on the Foreign Stock Record is equal to the Ownership Threshold. The voting rights will be reinstated once the voting rights of the capital stock registered on the Foreign Stock Record does not exceed the Ownership Threshold, not taking into consideration the pro rata reduction.


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ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
None.

ITEM 2. PROPERTIES
We lease our corporate headquarters located in New York, New York. We use this facility for executive management, finance and accounting, legal, human resource management, technology, marketing, sales and other administrative functions. We also have various leases for sales offices or operations in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Our member services team has leased office space located in Ohio. In addition, we have leased an FBO in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area at the CVG airport.
We believe that our existing facilities are in good condition and suitable for the conduct of our business.

ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
From time to time, we are subject to various legal proceedings and claims, either asserted or unasserted, which arise in the ordinary course of business. While the outcome of these matters cannot be predicted with certainty, we do not believe that the outcome of any of these matters, individually or in the aggregate, will have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
Not applicable.

PART II.

ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT'S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Market Information
Our Class A common stock and Public Warrants have been listed on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the symbol “UP” and “UP WS”, respectively, since July 14, 2021. Prior to the closing of the Business Combination, our Class A Common stock and Public Warrants were listed on the NYSE under the symbols “ASPL” and “ASPL WS”, respectively. We do not currently intend to list the Private Warrants on any securities exchange.
Holders
As of March 4, 2022, there were approximately 135, one and six holders of record of our Class A common stock, Public Warrants and Private Warrants, respectively. Such numbers do not include beneficial owners holding our securities through nominee names.
Dividends
We have not paid any cash dividends on our Class A common stock. We do not anticipate declaring or paying cash dividends on our Class A common stock for the foreseeable future.
Securities Authorized for Issuance Under Equity Compensation Plans
The following table provides information on our equity compensation plans as of December 31, 2021. The only plan pursuant to which the Company may currently make additional equity grants is the 2021 LTIP.
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Plan CategoryNumber of securities to
be issued upon exercise
of outstanding options,
warrants and rights         
Weighted-average exercise price of outstanding options, warrants and rightsNumber of securities remaining available for future issuance under equity compensation plans (excluding securities reflected in column (a))
(a)(b)(c)
Equity compensation plans approved by stockholders(1)
9,408,678(2)
$ 10.00 (3)          
27,346,829 
Equity compensation plans not approved by stockholders
15,713,067(4)         
$ 7.52(5)
— 
Total25,121,745 $7.66 27,346,829 
(1) Consists of the 2021 LTIP.
(2) Consists of restricted stock units convertible into a maximum of 8,487,893 shares of Class A common stock and stock options to purchase up to 920,785 shares of Class A common stock granted under the 2021 LTIP.
(3) Reflects the weighted-average exercise price of outstanding options under the 2021 LTIP was $10.00 as of December 31, 2021. The calculation of the weighted-average exercise price does not include outstanding equity awards that are received or exercised for no consideration.
(4) Reflects stock options granted under the Wheels Up Partners Holdings LLC Option Plan (“WUP stock option plan”) prior to the closing of the Business Combination and assumed in connection with the Business Combination. No further awards may be made under such plan.
(5) Reflects the weighted-average exercise price of outstanding options under the WUP stock option plan was $7.52 as of December 31, 2021. The calculation of the weighted-average exercise price does not include outstanding equity awards that are received or exercised for no consideration.

Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities and Use of Proceeds
Except as disclosed in our Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the SEC on July 19, 2021, there were no sales of unregistered equity securities during the year ended December 31, 2021.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
None.

ITEM 6. [RESERVED]










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ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes to our consolidated financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this Annual Report. This discussion contains forward-looking statements which involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements for many reasons including the risks faced by us described in “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report. Please refer to our Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements above. Unless the context otherwise requires, references in this “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” section to “we,” “us,” “our,” and “the Company” are intended to mean the business and operations of Wheels Up and its consolidated subsidiaries.
This section generally discusses the results of our operations for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020. For a discussion of the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to the year ended December 31, 2019, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Conditions and Results of Operations” included in the final prospectus dated August 25, 2021.
Overview of Our Business
Wheels Up strives to disrupt private aviation by delivering innovative, accessible, travel through simple-to-use proprietary technology and mobile applications. We have become a recognized market leader and are redefining private flying by leveraging our unique technology-enabled marketplace platform. We connect flyers to private aircraft, and to one another, creating memorable lifestyle experiences.
We have a diversified and evolving business model generating revenue through flights, membership fees, management of aircraft and other services. Our chief operating decision maker, our chief executive officer, reviews our financial information presented on a consolidated basis, and accordingly, we operate under one reportable segment, which is private aviation services.
Flight revenue includes both retail and wholesale charter. Wheels Up has one of the largest and most diverse mix of available aircraft in the industry. As of December 31, 2021, we have over 180 aircraft in our owned and leased fleet that includes Turboprops, Light, Midsize, Super-Midsize and Large-Cabin jets, more than half of which are Wheels Up branded aircraft. As of December 31, 2021, we also have a managed fleet across all private aircraft cabin classes of approximately 150 aircraft and an extensive network of third-party operators available in our program fleet from whom we can access over 1,200 additional safety vetted and verified partner aircraft.
Members pay a fixed quoted amount for flights plus certain incidental or additional costs, if applicable. The quoted amount can be based on a contractual capped hourly rate or dynamically priced based on a number of variables at time of booking. Wholesale customers, such as charter flight brokers and third-party operators, primarily pay a fixed rate for flights. Members are also able to purchase Prepaid Blocks, which are dollar-denominated credits that can be applied to future costs incurred by members, including annual dues, flight services and other incidental costs such as catering and ground transportation. Prepaid Block sales allow us to have a certain amount of revenue visibility into future flight and travel demand. Members who elect not to purchase a Prepaid Block “pay as they fly” by paying for their flights at the time of booking or after their flights.
Membership revenue is generated from initiation and annual renewal fees across three different annual subscription tiers — Connect, Core and Business — each of which is designed to provide the varying services required across a range of existing and potential private flyers. Core membership is ideal for the more frequent individual private flyer who wants guaranteed availability and pricing, high-touch account management, capped rates and values ultimate convenience and flexibility. The Business membership is best suited for companies of any size that want a broader group of individuals in their organization to be able to book and fly, while also requiring maximum flexibility to meet their business needs. Our Business customers include companies that fully outsource their private travel solution to Wheels Up, including but not necessarily managing their privately owned aircraft, and those that use Wheels Up to serve or supplement their in-house flight desks. We have offered Core and Business memberships with guaranteed aircraft availability and fixed rate pricing since our inception. During 2019, we
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launched Connect, our introductory membership tier. The Connect membership offers variable rate pricing on a per trip basis and is designed for the consumer with less frequent flight needs or who has more flexibility in their schedule or does not seek capped rate pricing. All membership options provide access through the Wheels Up mobile app to on-demand charter flights, dynamic pricing, a variety of Shared Flights, empty-leg Hot Flights, Shuttles, and The Community, an online platform of members-only forums to facilitate flight sharing, enabling members to reduce their cost of flying private. In addition, customers can qualify for Delta miles in the Delta SkyMiles Program as part of their membership.
During 2020, we added a non-membership offering to tap into a larger addressable market and expand flyer participation in our marketplace. Non-member customers now have access to a full-scale marketplace of private aircraft through the Wheels Up mobile app, available on iOS and Android where they can view the real-time dynamic pricing for available aircraft classes, making it possible to instantaneously search, book and fly. These flyers are not required to purchase a membership but may pay additional transaction fees not applicable to members and do not receive membership benefits. In addition, non-member flyers do not have aircraft availability guarantees as members do and flights are priced dynamically at rates that are not capped.
We also manage aircraft for owners in exchange for a recurring contractual fee. Under the terms of many of our management agreements, in addition to owners utilizing their own aircraft, the managed aircraft may be used by us to fulfill member and non-member flights on a revenue sharing arrangement with the owner. Revenue associated with the management of aircraft also includes the recovery of owner incurred expenses as well as recharging of certain incurred aircraft operating costs.
In addition, we earn other revenue from FBO and MRO ground services, flight management software subscriptions, sponsorship and partnership fees, special missions and whole aircraft acquisitions and sales where we act as the broker.
Recent Developments
Completion of the Business Combination
On July 13, 2021, we completed the Business Combination. We received approximately $656.3 million in gross proceeds in connection with the transaction.
Payoff of Credit Facilities and Promissory Notes
Shortly following the Closing Date, we repaid substantially all of the outstanding principal of the credit facilities and promissory notes, together with all accrued and unpaid interest in the amount of approximately $175.5 million
Acquisitions
Mountain Aviation, LLC
On January 5, 2021, we acquired all the outstanding equity of Mountain Aviation. Mountain Aviation adds to our Super-Midsize jet fleet and operations, provides full-service in-house maintenance capabilities, expands our presence in the Western U.S. and enhances our on-demand transcontinental charter flight capabilities.
For further information regarding our acquisitions, see Note 6, Acquisitions, of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included herein.
Business Impact of COVID-19
During the first half of 2020, in order to minimize the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operating costs and cash flows we took a number of temporary actions, including a voluntary employee leave of absence program, reduced work schedules, departmental hiring freezes, reduced salaries for certain executives, a cutback in capital expenditures, removing some of our aircraft from service and implementation of stringent, essential-only expense management policies.
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For the foreseeable future, we plan to continue the Wheels Up Safe Passage™ program introduced in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. During the year ended December 31, 2020, we incurred $1.2 million of costs for COVID-19 health and safety response initiatives and have forecasted a similar level of expense on a go-forward basis to continue COVID-19 management and containment efforts for our customers. We have not had and do not expect any material COVID-19 related contingencies, impairments, concessions, credit losses or other expenses in future periods.
As a result of the increased rate of COVID-19 spread during a portion of the fourth quarter of 2021 and into the first quarter of 2022, flight volumes were negatively impacted, primarily due to a combination of customer cancellations, access to third-party supply and reduced crew availability resulting from COVID-19 exposure.
Moving forward, we believe the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a shift in consumer prioritization of wellness and safety, with private aviation viewed increasingly by those in the addressable market as a health-conscious decision rather than a discretionary luxury. We believe this will translate into an increase in flight demand over time.
Air Carrier Payroll Support Program
On March 27, 2020, the CARES Act was signed into law. The CARES Act is a relief package intended to assist many aspects of the American economy. The CARES Act provided aid in the form of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of government assistance. Specifically, the CARES Act provided the airline industry with up to $25.0 billion in grants with assurances the support is to be used exclusively for employee salaries, wages and benefits. The CARES Act also provided for up to $25.0 billion in secured loans to the airline industry.
Wheels Up applied to the Treasury for assistance under the Payroll Support Program as established by the CARES Act. We were awarded $74.2 million to support ongoing operations, which was fully received by September 30, 2020. Subsequent to this award, we were granted an additional $2.2 million in accordance with a notification that, based on funding availability, recipients that were currently in compliance with signed payroll support program agreements would receive an approximate 3% increase in their award amount. This additional amount was received in October 2020. We utilized all of these proceeds to offset payroll expenses incurred for the year ended December 31, 2020.
In December 2020, Congress authorized an additional $15.0 billion in financial assistance for the aviation industry as part of a $900.0 billion COVID-19 relief stimulus package included within the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. Given the recovery in our business in the third and fourth quarters of 2020 compared to the initial quarters following the onset of COVID-19, we did not apply for a second round of funding.
The CARES Act support payments were conditioned on our agreement to refrain from conducting involuntary employee layoffs or furloughs through September 30, 2020. Other conditions include continuing essential air service as directed by DOT, a prohibition on conducting any stock repurchase or paying any dividends through September 30, 2021, certain restrictions on executive and other employee compensation through March 24, 2022 and certain ongoing reporting obligations through March 24, 2022. Based on the amount received, we were not required to provide financial protection, such as issuing a warrant, other equity interest or debt instrument, to the Treasury in conjunction with the payroll support obtained.
The CARES Act also provided for deferred payment of the employer portion of social security taxes through the end of 2020, with 50% of the deferred amount due December 31, 2021 and the remaining 50% due December 31, 2022. This provided us with approximately $6.8 million of additional liquidity prior to the deferred payment dates.
Our recently acquired Mountain Aviation subsidiary also applied for and received a grant under the CARES Act Payroll Support Program, which was received prior to our acquisition of the company in January 2021. The terms and conditions applicable to such grant were identical to the terms and condition of the Wheels Up grant. Mountain Aviation also received a loan on April 14, 2020 in the amount of $3.2 million from Vectra under the SBA’s PPP enacted as part of the CARES Act. In connection with this acquisition, a portion of the purchase price otherwise payable by us to Mountain Aviation’s former equity owner in an amount equal to the principal and interest then outstanding on this loan was placed in an escrow account at Vectra, to be paid to Vectra if and to the extent the PPP Loan were not to be forgiven by the SBA under the PPP. Mountain Aviation’s former equity owner agreed to pay
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any amounts owing under the PPP Loan in excess of the amount in escrow and agreed to indemnify us for any obligations we incurred under the PPP Loan to the extent not satisfied from the escrow account. The PPP Loan was forgiven by the SBA on June 9, 2021 and the amount of sales proceeds held in escrow were released to the seller.
Key Factors Affecting Results of Operations
We believe that the following factors have affected our financial condition and results of operations and are expected to continue to have a significant effect:
Market Competition
We compete for market share in the private aviation industry, which consists of a highly fragmented group of companies providing varying types of services. The industry is customer driven and highly competitive. Our ability to retain members is a key factor in our ability to generate revenue. We are impacted by current trends in both how technology is used to book charter trips and how new business models are expanding the types and variety of flight services offered. Options include a mix of whole aircraft ownership, fractional ownership, jet card ownership, membership models and other forms of access. We believe our business model differentiates us within the industry by striving to reduce the upfront cost of flying private while also providing more flexibility and availability compared to traditional competitive private aviation programs.
Costs and Expense Management
Our operating results are impacted by our ability to manage costs and expenses and achieving a balance between investing in appropriate resources to grow revenue with a focus on driving decreased losses and eventual profitability. We are working to find opportunities to enhance margins and operate more efficiently, including bringing routine airframe, engine maintenance and periodic inspections in-house and away from third-party vendors to help reduce costs. We believe this will increase the availability of our aircraft and lower the cost of providing our services. As we experience inflationary pressures, including wage and medical costs, or supply chain disruptions for parts and supplies our margins are negatively impacted.
In addition, we are investing significant time and resources into developing sophisticated pricing and scheduling algorithms and data optimization engines to help optimize the utility and efficiency of our fleet. Our operations, data science and revenue management teams collectively use data and technology to focus on pricing accuracy, as well as to manage our flight costs to help drive our financial results.
Economic Conditions
The private aviation industry is volatile and affected by economic cycles and trends. On-demand flying is typically discretionary for members and customers and may be affected by negative trends in the economy. Consumer confidence, fluctuations in fuel prices, inflation, changes in governmental regulations, safety concerns and other factors all could negatively impact our business. Typically, the larger cabin classes of aircraft are more sensitive to and affected by economic cycles.
Pilot Availability and Attrition
In recent years, we have experienced increased competition for qualified pilots that are eligible for hire due to our more stringent pilot qualifications and flight training standards. If the supply of qualified pilots is reduced or our actual pilot attrition rates are materially different than our projections, our operations and financial results could be adversely affected.
Non-GAAP Financial Measures
In addition to our results of operations below, we report certain key financial measures that are not required by, or presented in accordance with, GAAP.
These non-GAAP financial measures are an addition, and not a substitute for or superior to, measures of financial performance prepared in accordance with GAAP and should not be considered as an alternative to any
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performance measures derived in accordance with GAAP. We believe that these non-GAAP financial measures of financial results provide useful supplemental information to investors, about Wheels Up. However, there are a number of limitations related to the use of these non-GAAP financial measures and their nearest GAAP equivalents, including that they exclude significant expenses that are required by GAAP to be recorded in Wheels Up’s financial measures. In addition, other companies may calculate non-GAAP financial measures differently or may use other measures to calculate their financial performance, and therefore, our non-GAAP financial measures may not be directly comparable to similarly titled measures of other companies.
Adjusted EBITDA
We calculate Adjusted EBITDA as net income (loss) adjusted for (i) interest income (expense), (ii) income tax expense, (iii) depreciation and amortization, (iv) equity-based compensation expense, (v) acquisition and integration related expenses, (vi) public company readiness related expenses, (vii) change in fair value of warrant liability, (viii) losses on the extinguishment of debt and (ix) other items not indicative of our ongoing operating performance, including the CARES Act grant and COVID-19 response initiatives for 2020. We include Adjusted EBITDA as a supplemental measure for assessing operating performance and for the following:
Used in conjunction with bonus program target achievement determinations, strategic internal planning, annual budgeting, allocating resources and making operating decisions; and,
Provides useful information for historical period-to-period comparisons of our business, as it removes the effect of certain non-cash expenses and variable amounts.
The following table reconciles Adjusted EBITDA to net loss, which is the most directly comparable GAAP measure (in thousands):
Year Ended December 31,
20212020
Net loss
$(197,230)$(85,405)
Add back (deduct)
Interest expense
9,519 22,989 
Interest income
(53)(550)
Income tax expense58 — 
Depreciation and amortization
54,198 58,529 
Equity-based compensation expense
49,673 3,342 
Public company readiness expense(1)
3,298 1,801 
Acquisition and integration expense(2)
8,712 14,575 
CARES Act grant recognition— (76,376)
COVID-19 response initiatives(3)
— 1,192 
Credit loss on employee loan— 5,448 
Corporate headquarters relocation expense(4)
31 2,092 
Change in fair value of warrant liability(17,951)— 
Loss on extinguishment of debt2,379 — 
Adjusted EBITDA
$(87,366)$(52,363)
__________________
(1)Includes costs primarily associated with compliance, updated systems and consulting in advance of transitioning to a public company.
(2)Consists mainly of system conversions, merging of operating certificates, re-branding costs and fees paid to external advisors in connection with strategic transactions.
(3)Includes expenses for the development of enhanced cleaning and operation protocols for our Safe Passage™ program due to COVID-19 in 2020. We incurred COVID-19 related expenses in 2021 but did not include an adjustment as the costs were part of ongoing operations.
(4)Represents expenditures related to the build out and move to our new corporate headquarters in New York.
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Adjusted Contribution and Adjusted Contribution Margin
We calculate Adjusted Contribution as gross profit (loss) excluding depreciation and amortization and adjusted further for (i) equity-based compensation included in cost of revenue, (ii) acquisition and integration expense included in cost of revenue and (iii) other items included in cost of revenue that are not indicative of our ongoing operating performance, including COVID-19 response initiatives for 2020. Adjusted Contribution Margin is calculated by dividing Adjusted Contribution by total revenue. We include Adjusted Contribution and Adjusted Contribution Margin as supplemental measures for assessing operating performance and for the following:
Used to understand our ability to achieve profitability over time through scale and leveraging costs; and,
Provides useful information for historical period-to-period comparisons of our business and to identify trends.
The following table reconciles Adjusted Contribution to gross profit, which is the most directly comparable GAAP measure (in thousands, except percentages):
Year Ended December 31,
20212020
Revenue$1,194,259 $694,981 
Less: Cost of revenue(1,117,633)(634,775)
Less: Depreciation and amortization(54,198)(58,529)
Gross profit
22,428 1,677 
Gross margin
1.9 %0.2 %
Add back:
Depreciation and amortization54,198 58,529 
Equity-based compensation expense in cost of revenue4,541 293 
Acquisition and integration expense in cost of revenue1,010 1,113 
COVID-19 response initiatives in cost of revenue— 789 
Adjusted Contribution
$82,177 $62,401 
Adjusted Contribution Margin
6.9 %9.0 %
Key Operating Metrics
In addition to financial measures, we regularly review certain key operating metrics to evaluate our business, determine the allocation of resources and make decisions regarding business strategies. We believe that these metrics can be useful for understanding the underlying trends in our business.
The following table summarizes our key operating metrics:
As of December 31,
20212020% Change
Active Members
12,040 9,212 31 %
Year Ended December 31,
20212020% Change
Active Users
12,543 11,345 11 %
Live Flight Legs
73,522 44,579 65 %
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Active Members
We define Active Members as the number of Connect, Core and Business membership accounts that generated membership revenue in a given period and are active as of the end of the reporting period. We use Active Members to assess the adoption of our premium offerings which is a key factor in our penetration of the market in which we operate and a key driver of membership and flight revenue.
Active Users
We define Active Users as Active Members and legacy WUPJ jet card holders as of the reporting date plus unique non-member consumers who completed a revenue generating flight at least once in a given period and excluding wholesale flight activity. While a unique consumer can complete multiple revenue generating flights on our platform in a given period, that unique user is counted as only one Active User. We use Active Users to assess the adoption of our platform and frequency of transactions, which are key factors in our penetration of the market in which we operate and our growth in revenue.
Live Flight Legs
We define Live Flight Legs as the number of completed one-way revenue generating flight legs in a given period. The metric excludes empty repositioning legs and owner legs related to aircraft under management. We believe Live Flight Legs are a useful metric to measure the scale and usage of our platform, and our growth in flight revenue.
Component of Results of Our Operations
The key components of our results of operations include:
Revenue
Revenue is derived from flight, membership, aircraft management and other services.
Flight revenue consists of retail and wholesale flights. Members can either pay as they fly or prepay for flights when they purchase a Prepaid Block.
Membership revenue is comprised of a one-time initiation fee paid at the commencement of a membership and recurring annual dues. In the first year of membership, a portion of the initiation fee is applied to annual dues. The remainder of the initiation fee, less any flight credits, is deferred and recognized on a straight-line basis over the estimated duration of the customer relationship period, which is currently estimated to be three years. Members are charged recurring annual dues to maintain their membership. Revenue related to the annual dues are deferred and recognized on a straight-line basis over the related contractual period. If a member qualifies to earn Delta miles in the Delta SkyMiles Program as part of their membership, then a portion of the membership fee is allocated at contract inception.
Aircraft management revenue consists of contractual monthly management fees charged to aircraft owners, recovery of owner incurred expenses including maintenance coordination, cabin crew and pilots, and recharging of certain incurred aircraft operating costs such as maintenance, fuel, landing fees and parking. We pass recovery and recharge amounts back to owners at either cost or at a predetermined margin.
Other revenue primarily consists of (i) ground services derived from aircraft customers that use our FBO and MRO facilities and (ii) flight-related services. In addition, other revenue includes subscription fees from third-party operators for access to UP FMS, fees we may receive from third-party sponsorships and partnerships, whole aircraft acquisitions and sales where we act as the broker, and special missions including government, defense, emergency and medical transport.
Costs and Expenses
Costs and expenses consist of the following components:
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Cost of Revenue
Cost of revenue primarily consists of direct expenses incurred to provide flight services and facilitate operations, including aircraft lease costs, fuel, crew travel, maintenance and third-party flight costs. Cost of revenue also consists of compensation expenses, including equity-based compensation and related benefits for employees that directly facilitate flight operations. In addition, cost of revenue includes aircraft owner expenses incurred such as maintenance coordination, cabin crew and pilots, and certain aircraft operating costs such as maintenance, fuel, landing fees and parking.
Other Operating Expenses
Technology and Development
Technology and development expense primarily consists of compensation expenses for engineering, product development and design employees, including equity-based compensation, expenses associated with ongoing improvements to, and maintenance of, our platform offerings and other technology. Technology and development expense also includes software expenses and technology consulting fees.
Sales and Marketing
Sales and marketing expense primarily consists of compensation expenses in support of sales and marketing such as commissions, salaries, equity-based compensation and related benefits. Sales and marketing expense also includes expenses associated with advertising, promotions of our services, member experience, account management and brand-building.
General and Administrative
General and administrative expense primarily consists of compensation expenses, including equity-based compensation and related benefits for our executive, finance, human resources, legal and other personnel performing administrative functions. General and administrative expense also includes corporate office rent expense, third-party professional fees, acquisition and integration related expenses, public company readiness expenses and any other cost or expense incurred not deemed to be related to cost of revenue, sales and marketing expense or technology and development expense.
Depreciation and Amortization
Depreciation and amortization expense primarily consists of depreciation of capitalized aircraft. Depreciation and amortization expense also includes amortization of capitalized software development costs and acquired finite-lived intangible assets. We allocate overhead such as facility costs and telecommunications charges, based on department headcount, as we believe this to be the most accurate measure. As a result, a portion of general overhead expenses are reflected in each operating expense category.
CARES Act Grant
Consists of government assistance received from the Treasury under the Payroll Support Program as directed by the CARES Act.
Gain on Sale of Aircraft Held for Sale
Consists of the gain on aircraft sold where we did not act as a broker. When these aircraft were acquired, it was our intent to sell and not to hold them long-term.
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Change in Fair Value of Warrant Liability
Change in fair value of warrant liability consists of unrealized gain (loss) on Warrants assumed as part of the Business Combination, including Private Warrants and Public Warrants.
Loss on Extinguishment of Debt
Loss on extinguishment of debt consists of the write off of unamortized debt discounts and deferred financing costs associated with the early repayment of our outstanding credit facilities and promissory notes.
Interest Income
Interest income primarily consists of interest earned on cash equivalents from deposits in money market funds and investments in commercial paper.
Interest Expense
Interest expense primarily consists of the interest paid or payable and the amortization of debt discounts and deferred financing costs on our outstanding credit facilities and promissory notes.
Income Tax Expense
Income taxes are recorded using the asset and liability method. Under this method, deferred tax assets and liabilities are recorded based on the estimated future tax effects of differences between the financial reporting and tax bases of existing assets and liabilities. These differences are measured using the enacted tax rates that are expected to be in effect when these differences are anticipated to reverse. Deferred tax assets are reduced by a valuation allowance to the extent management believes it is not more likely than not to be realized.
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Results of Our Operations for the Year Ended December 31, 2021 Compared to the Year Ended December 31, 2020
The following table sets forth our results of operations for the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020 (in thousands, except percentages):
Year Ended December 31,Change in
20212020
$
%
Revenue
$1,194,259 $694,981 $499,278 72 %
Costs and expenses:
Cost of revenue
1,117,633 634,775 482,858 76 %
Technology and development
33,579 21,010 12,569 60 %
Sales and marketing
80,071 55,124 24,947 45 %
General and administrative
113,331 64,885 48,446 75 %
Depreciation and amortization
54,198 58,529 (4,331)(7)%
CARES Act grant— (76,376)76,376 100 %
Gain on sale of aircraft held for sale(1,275)— (1,275)100 %
Total costs and expenses
1,397,537 757,947 639,590 84 %
Loss from operations
(203,278)(62,966)(140,312)(223)%
Other income (expense):
Change in fair value of warrant liability17,951 — 17,951 100 %
Loss on extinguishment of debt(2,379)— (2,379)100 %
Interest income
53 550 (497)(90)%
Interest expense
(9,519)(22,989)13,470 (59)%
Total other income (expense)6,106 (22,439)28,545 127 %
Loss before income taxes(197,172)(85,405)(111,767)(131)%
Income tax expense(58)— (58)— %
Net loss (197,230)(85,405)(111,825)(131)%
Less: Net loss attributable to non-controlling interests(7,210)(6,764)(446)(7)%
Net loss attributable to Wheels Up Experience Inc.
$(190,020)$(78,641)$(111,379)(142)%
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Revenue
Revenue increased by $499.3 million, or 72%, for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020. The increase in revenue was primarily attributable to the following changes in flight revenue, membership revenue, aircraft management revenue and other revenue (in thousands, except percentages):
Year Ended December 31,Change in
20212020
$
%
Flight$873,724 $495,419 $378,305 76%
Membership
69,592 54,622 14,970 27%
Aircraft management
225,265 132,729 92,536 70%
Other
25,678 12,211 13,467 110%
Total
$1,194,259 $694,981 $499,278 72%
Flight revenue growth was primarily driven by a 65% increase in Live Flight Legs, which resulted in $321.7 million of growth, and a 7% increase in flight revenue per Live Flight Leg, which drove $56.6 million of year-over-year improvement. The increase in Live Flight Legs was primarily attributable to an increase in the number of Active Members, as well as an increase in flying by Active Members, and recovery from the adverse impact of COVID-19 on 2020 results.
Growth in membership revenue was driven entirely by a 31% increase in Active Members but was impacted by an increased mix of members added at promotional rates or lower priced memberships.
The increase in aircraft management revenue was primarily attributable to an increase in our recovery of owner and rechargeable costs related to operating aircraft under management, both of which stem from increased flight activity.
The increase in other revenue was primarily attributable to an increase in MRO and FBO related revenue. In addition, whole aircraft sales where we acted as the broker, as well as ground and catering services, both increased year-over-year.
Cost of Revenue
Cost of revenue increased by $482.9 million, or 76%, for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020. The increase in cost of revenue is primarily attributable to an increase in Live Flight Legs and the increase in aircraft management revenue.
Adjusted Contribution Margin decreased 210 basis points for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020, which was primarily attributable to cost pressures and supply constraints impacting us and the industry. Additionally, pilot availability, increased fuel costs, maintenance challenges and wage inflation also contributed to the decline in Adjusted Contribution Margin. See “Non-GAAP Financial Measures” above for a definition of Adjusted Contribution Margin, information regarding our use of Adjusted Contribution Margin and a reconciliation of gross margin to Adjusted Contribution Margin.
Other Operating Expenses
Technology and Development
Technology and development expenses increased by $12.6 million, or 60%, for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020. The increase in technology and development expenses was primarily attributable to an increase of $7.4 million in employee compensation and allocable costs, which was partially offset by an increase in capitalized internal costs related to the development of internal use software of $0.3 million. Third-party consultant fees also increased $5.2 million, which was offset by a $4.7 million increase in capitalized costs related to internal use software. Additionally, equipment and enterprise software expense increased by $2.6 million and $2.4 million, respectively.
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Sales and Marketing
Sales and marketing expenses increased by $24.9 million, or 45%, for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020. The increase in sales and marketing was primarily attributable to increases in headcount and related compensation and allocable costs of $12.8 million. In addition, sales commissions increased $6.6 million from growth in memberships and flight revenue. For the year ended December 31, 2020, we took certain cost saving measures to reduce headcount and related compensation costs, consistent with applicable CARES Act limitations, which returned to normal levels for the year ended December 31, 2021. Additionally, advertising and marketing related expense increased $4.7 million as we had reduced advertising and marketing spending during the year ended December 31, 2020 as part of cost cutting measures to offset the impact of COVID-19. Lastly, professional fees related to sales consulting increased $0.8 million year-over-year.
General and Administrative
General and administrative expenses increased by $48.4 million, or 75%, for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020. The increase in general and administrative expenses was primarily attributable to a $37.1 million increase in equity-based compensation due to accelerated vesting of all awards that vested in connection with the Business Combination. In addition, personnel expenses increased by $7.9 million. For the year ended December 31, 2020, we took certain cost saving measures to reduce headcount and related compensation costs, consistent with applicable CARES Act limitations, which returned to normal levels for the year ended December 31, 2021. In addition, for the year ended December 31, 2021, public company readiness related costs increased $3.1 million, and we incurred $0.9 million of public company related costs. Professional service related fees, travel and entertainment expenses, office expenses and other costs increased by approximately $4.8 million. The overall increase was partially offset by a full reserve recorded on a $5.4 million employee loan receivable during 2020.
Depreciation and Amortization
Depreciation and amortization expenses decreased by $4.3 million, or 7%, for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020. The decrease in depreciation and amortization expense was primarily attributable to a $8.3 million decrease in depreciation expense for our owned aircraft as certain aircraft became fully depreciable subsequent to December 31, 2020. Additionally, depreciation expense related to leasehold improvements decreased $0.7 million. The decrease was partially offset by increases in amortization of software development costs and intangible assets of $2.1 million and $2.3 million, respectively, as well as an increase in depreciation related to furniture and fixtures of $0.3 million.
CARES Act Grant
During the year ended December 31, 2020, as a result of the negative impact of COVID-19, we utilized grant proceeds from the Treasury of $76.4 million to offset payroll expenses.
Interest Expense
Interest expense decreased by $13.5 million, or 59%, for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020. The decrease in interest expense was primarily attributable to our repayment of substantially all of the outstanding principal of our long-term debt on July 21, 2021.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
Overview
Our principal sources of liquidity have historically consisted of financing activities, including proceeds from the Business Combination, and operating activities, primarily from the increase in deferred revenue associated with the sale of Prepaid Blocks. As of December 31, 2021, we had $784.6 million of cash and cash equivalents, which were primarily invested in money market funds and $2.1 million of restricted cash. We believe our cash and cash equivalents on hand, will be sufficient to meet our projected working capital and capital expenditure requirements for at least the next 12 months.
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Cash Flows
The following table summarizes our cash flows for the years ended December 31, 2021, and 2020 (in thousands):
Year Ended December 31,
20212020
Net cash provided by operating activities
$126,490 $209,644 
Net cash (used in) provided by investing activities
$(38,670)$81,580 
Net cash provided by (used in) financing activities
$374,026 $(62,788)
Net increase in cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash
$461,846 $228,436 
Cash Flow from Operating Activities
Net cash provided by operating activities for the year ended December 31, 2021 was $126.5 million. In 2021, the cash inflow from operating activities consisted of our net loss, net of non-cash items of $92.2 million and an increase in net operating liabilities offset by an increase in operating assets, primarily as a result of a $278.8 million increase in deferred revenue attributable to a significant increase in Prepaid Block purchases. During the year ended December 31, 2021, we sold $896.7 million of Prepaid Blocks compared to $532.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2020. The increase in Prepaid Block purchases was primarily attributable to the growth of Active Members and flying activity by those Active Members.
Cash Flow from Investing Activities
Net cash used in investing activities for the year ended December 31, 2021 was $38.7 million. In 2021, the cash outflow from investing activities was primarily attributable to $28.4 million for capital expenditures, including $13.2 million of software development costs. In addition, the cash outflow included $31.7 million for the purchases of aircraft held for sale. The cash outflow was partially offset by $13.6 million from sale of aircraft held for sale and $7.8 million from the acquisition of Mountain Aviation, net of cash acquired.
We anticipate capital spending for 2022 to be approximately $125.0 million. This amount includes what we consider traditional capital spending of $60.0 million for purchased aircraft, capitalized software, etc., as well as $65.0 million to exercise our purchase option with Textron Financial Corporation on 32 aircraft in the first quarter of 2022, which we view primarily as a financing decision on previously leased and operated aircraft.
Cash Flow from Financing Activities
Net cash provided by financing activities for the year ended December 31, 2021 was $374.0 million. In 2021, the cash inflow from financing activities was primarily attributable to gross proceeds of $656.3 million received in the Business Combination, net of $70.4 million of transaction related costs. The cash inflow was partially offset by $214.1 million in repayments of our credit facilities and promissory notes.
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
As of December 31, 2021, we were not a party to any off-balance sheet arrangements, as defined in Regulation S-K, that have or are reasonably likely to have a current or future material effect on our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
Contractual Obligations and Commitments
Our principal commitments consist of contractual cash obligations under our operating leases for certain controlled aircraft, corporate headquarters, and operational facilities, including aircraft hangars. For further information on our leases see Note 12, Leases of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included herein.
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Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
Our management’s discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of our operations is based on our consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the U.S. Certain amounts included in or affecting the consolidated financial statements presented in this Annual Report and related disclosure must be estimated, requiring management to make assumptions with respect to values or conditions which cannot be known with certainty at the time the consolidated financial statements are prepared. Management believes that the accounting policies set forth below comprise the most important “critical accounting policies” for Wheels Up. A “critical accounting policy” is one which is both important to the portrayal of our financial condition and results of operations and that involves difficult, subjective or complex judgments, often as a result of the need to make estimates about the effect of matters that are inherently uncertain. Management evaluates such policies on an ongoing basis, based upon historical results and experience, consultation with experts and other methods that management considers reasonable in the particular circumstances under which the judgments and estimates are made, as well as management’s forecasts as to the manner in which such circumstances may change in the future.
Revenue Recognition
We determine revenue recognition through the following steps in accordance with ASC 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers:
Identification of the contract, or contracts, with a customer;
Identification of the performance obligations in the contract;
Determination of the transaction price;
Allocation of the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract; and
Recognition of revenue when, or as, a performance obligation is satisfied.
A performance obligation is a promise in a contract to transfer a distinct service to the customer and is the basis of revenue recognition. There are contracts which could have more than one performance obligation. For contracts that include additional performance obligations, we account for individual performance obligations if they are distinct. If there is a group of performance obligations bundled in a contract, the transaction price is required to be allocated based upon the relative standalone selling prices of the promised services underlying each performance obligation. We generally determine the standalone selling price based on the prices charged to customers. If there are services included in the transaction price for which the standalone selling price is not directly observable, then we would first apply the standalone selling price for those services that are known, such as the flight hourly rate, and then allocate the total consideration proportionately to the other performance obligations in the contract.
Revenue is recognized when control of the promised service is transferred to our member or the customer, in an amount that reflects the consideration we expect to be entitled to in exchange for those services. Our revenue is reported net of discounts and incentives. We generally do not issue refunds for flights unless there is a failure to meet our service obligations. Refunded amounts for initiation fees and annual dues are granted to some customers that no longer wish to remain members following their first flight. We generally do not have contracts that include variable terms.
We utilize registered independent third-party air carriers in the performance of a portion of our flights. We evaluate whether there is a promise to transfer services to the customer, as the principal, or to arrange for services to be provided by another party, as the agent, using a control model. The nature of the flight services we provide to members is similar regardless of which third-party air carrier is involved. Wheels Up directs third-party air carriers to provide an aircraft to a member or customer. Based on evaluation of the control model, it was determined that Wheels Up acts as the principal rather than the agent within all revenue arrangements, other than when acting as an intermediary ticketing agent for travel on Delta, as an advisor for whole aircraft acquisitions and sales and when managed aircraft owners charter their own aircraft, as we have the authority to direct the key components of the
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service on behalf of the member or customer regardless of which third-party is used. If Wheels Up has primary responsibility to fulfill the obligation, then the revenue and the associated costs are reported on a gross basis in the consolidated statements of operations.
Business Combinations and Asset Acquisitions
We account for business combinations and asset acquisitions using the acquisition method of accounting, which requires allocation of the purchase price to the tangible and intangible assets acquired and liabilities assumed based on their estimated fair values as of the acquisition date. For acquisitions meeting the definition of a business combination in ASC 805, Business Combinations, the excess of the purchase price over the amounts recognized for assets acquired and liabilities assumed is recorded as goodwill. During the measurement period, which may be up to one year from the acquisition date, we may record adjustments to the assets acquired and liabilities assumed in a business combination with the corresponding offset to goodwill. Upon the conclusion of the measurement period or final determination of the values of assets acquired or liabilities assumed, whichever comes first, any subsequent adjustments are recorded in the consolidated statements of operations. For acquisitions meeting the definition of an asset acquisition, the fair value of the consideration transferred, including transaction costs, is allocated to the assets acquired and liabilities assumed based on their relative fair values. No goodwill is recognized in an asset acquisition.
The acquisition method of accounting requires us to exercise judgment and make estimates and assumptions regarding fair values using the information available as of the date of acquisition. We may also refine these estimates over a one-year measurement period, to reflect any new information obtained about facts and circumstances that existed as of the acquisition date that, if known, would have affected the measurement of the amounts recognized as of that date. If we are required to retroactively adjust provisional amounts that we have recorded for the fair value of assets and liabilities in connection with an acquisition, these adjustments could materially impact our financial position and results of operations. Assumptions that we make in estimating the fair value of acquired developed technology, trade names, customer relationships and other identifiable intangible assets include future cash flows that we expect to generate from the acquired assets. If the subsequent actual results and updated projections of the underlying business activity change compared with the assumptions and projections used to develop these values, we could record impairment charges.
Goodwill and Intangibles
Goodwill represents the excess of the consideration transferred over the fair value of the identifiable assets acquired and liabilities assumed in business combinations. The carrying value of goodwill is tested for impairment on an annual basis or on an interim basis if events or changes in circumstances indicate that an impairment loss may have occurred (i.e., a triggering event). Our annual goodwill impairment testing date is October 1st. We are required to test goodwill on a reporting unit basis. We determined private aviation services is our one reporting unit to which the entire amount of goodwill is allocated.
Goodwill impairment is the amount by which our reporting unit’s carrying value exceeds its fair value, not to exceed the carrying value of goodwill. We use both qualitative and quantitative approaches when testing goodwill for impairment. Our qualitative approach evaluates various events including, but not limited to, macroeconomic conditions, changes in the business environment in which we operate, a sustained decrease in our share price and other specific facts and circumstances. If, after assessing qualitative factors, we determine that it is more-likely-than-not that the fair value of our reporting unit is greater than the carrying value, then performing a quantitative impairment assessment is unnecessary and our goodwill is not considered to be impaired. However, if based on the qualitative assessment we conclude that it is more-likely-than-not that the fair value of the reporting unit is less than the carrying value, or if we elect to skip the optional qualitative assessment approach, we proceed with performing the quantitative impairment assessment, to quantify the amount of impairment, if any.
When a quantitative impairment assessment is performed, we primarily determine the fair value of our reporting unit using a discounted cash flow model, or income approach, and supplement this with observable valuation multiples for comparable companies, as appropriate. The completion of the discounted cash flow model requires that we make a number of significant estimates and assumptions, which include projections of future revenue, costs and expenses, capital expenditures and working capital changes, as well as assumptions about the estimated weighted
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average cost of capital and other relevant variables. We base our estimates and assumptions on our recent performance, our expectations of future performance, economic or market conditions and other assumptions we believe to be reasonable. Actual future results may differ from those estimates.
Intangible assets, other than goodwill, acquired in a business combination are recognized at their fair value as of the date of acquisition. We periodically reassess the useful lives of our definite-lived intangible assets when events or circumstances indicate that useful lives have significantly changed from the previous estimate.
Impairment of Long-Lived Assets
Long-lived assets include aircraft, property and equipment, finite-lived intangible assets and operating lease right-of-use assets. We review the carrying value of long-lived assets for impairment when events or circumstances indicate that the carrying value may not be recoverable based on the estimated undiscounted future cash flows expected to result from the use and eventual disposition of the asset. The circumstances that would indicate potential impairment may include, but are not limited to, a significant change in the manner in which an asset is being used or losses associated with the use of an asset. We review long-lived assets for impairment at the individual asset or the asset group level for which the lowest level of independent cash flows can be identified and measured. If the carrying amount of a long-lived asset or asset group is determined not to be recoverable, an impairment loss is recognized and a write-down to fair value is recorded.
Equity-Based Compensation
Prior to the Business Combination, we issued equity-based compensation awards to employees and consultants, including stock options, profits interests and restricted interests, under the WUP stock option plan and WUP management incentive plan. In connection with the Business Combination, we adopted and have issued equity under the 2021 LTIP, which provides for grants of various types of awards including stock options, restricted stock units and other stock-based awards.
Equity-based compensation awards are measured at the date of grant based on the estimated fair value of the respective award and the resulting compensation expense is recognized over the requisite service period of the respective award. WUP restricted interests contained a performance condition that provides for accelerated vesting upon the occurrence of a change in control or an initial public offering including consummation of a transaction with a special-purpose acquisition company. For performance-based awards, the grant date fair value of the award is expensed over the vesting period when the performance condition is considered probable of being achieved. Earnout Shares issued in connection with the Business Combination contain market conditions for vesting. Compensation expense related to an award with a market condition is recognized on a tranche-by-tranche basis (accelerated attribution method) over the requisite service period and is not reversed if the market condition is not satisfied. We account for forfeitures of awards as they occur.
Fair value of our historical and outstanding equity-based compensation awards, including stock options, WUP profits interests and WUP restricted interests, were estimated using the Black Scholes option-pricing model and a Monte Carlo simulation model was used to determine the fair value of grants with market conditions. Both the Black-Scholes option-pricing model and the Monte Carlo simulation model requires management to include key inputs and assumptions, including the fair value of an underlying common interest in WUP or our current Class A common stock quoted market price, the expected trading volatility over the term of the award, the expected term of the award, risk-free interest rates and expected dividend yield. We evaluate the inputs and assumptions used to value our share-based awards on each grant date.
Expected Volatility. Since Wheels Up was not actively traded on the NYSE until July 2021, we used the average volatility of a mix of several unrelated publicly traded companies within the airline industry and certain travel technology companies, which we consider to be comparable to our business, over a period equivalent to the expected term of the awards. As our common stock accumulates more trading history, we will incorporate more of our own historical volatility and continue to use benchmark volatility with respect to periods beyond our common stock’s trading history.
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Expected Term. The expected term represents the period that our equity-based awards are expected to be outstanding. We determine the expected term using the midpoint between the requisite service period and the contractual term of the award due to us having insufficient historical exercise data.
Risk-Free Interest Rate. The interest rates used are based on the implied yield available for zero-coupon Treasury notes at the time of grant with maturities approximately equal to the expected term of the award.
Expected Dividend Yield. The dividend rate used is zero as we have never paid any cash dividends on our common interests and do not currently anticipate doing so in the foreseeable future.
Prior to the Business Combination, in the absence of a public trading market, the grant date fair value of our WUP common interests was determined by the WUP Board of Directors, with input from management and the assistance of an independent third-party valuation specialist. The WUP Board of Directors intended for all WUP stock options granted to have an exercise price per share not less than the per share fair value of WUP common interests on the date of grant. The valuations of WUP common interests were determined in accordance with the guidance provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Audit and Accounting Practice Series, Valuation of Privately-Held-Company Equity Securities Issued as Compensation.
The assumptions we use in the valuation models were based on future expectations combined with management judgment, and considering a number of objective and subjective factors to determine the fair value of WUP common interests as of the date of each WUP stock option grant, including the following:
the nature and history of our business;
the economic outlook in general and the outlook of our industry;
our stage of development and the competitive environment;
our historical and forecasted operating results;
our overall financial position;
the rights and preferences of WUP preferred interests relative to WUP common interests;
the likelihood of achieving a liquidity event, such as an initial public offering or sale based on current conditions;
any adjustment necessary to recognize a discount for lack of marketability; and,
the market performance of comparable publicly-traded companies.
In valuing our equity-based awards, we determined the total equity value of our business considering various valuation approaches including the income approach and market approach. Based on our facts and circumstances, we primarily used a discounted cash flow method, or the income approach, to approximate the fair value of our total equity on the grant date of a respective award.
As described above, the income approach involves applying appropriate discount rates to estimated cash flows that are based on forecasts of revenue, costs and capital expenditures, which are then discounted back to the present value using a rate of return derived from companies of similar type and risk profile. The discount rate reflects the risks inherent in the cash flows and the market rates of return available from alternative investments of similar type and quality as of the valuation date. Our assumptions underlying the estimates were consistent with the plans and estimates that we use to manage the business. The risks associated with achieving our forecasts were assessed in selecting the appropriate discount rates. As there have not been enough transactions with available market data involving similar companies, we considered but did not apply the market approach.
We then used the option pricing method to allocate the equity value and determine the estimated fair value of WUP common interests. The option pricing method allocates values to each equity class based on the liquidation preferences, participation rights and exercise prices of the equity class. We also include a discount to recognize the
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risk associated with the lack of marketability and liquidity of our equity. The discount adjustment is applied to account for the fact holders of private company interests do not have access to trading markets similar to those enjoyed by stockholders of public companies.
Application of these approaches involves the development of significant estimates, judgment, and assumptions that are highly complex and subjective, such as those regarding our expected future revenue, costs and expenses, and cash flows, discount rates, market multiples, the selection of comparable companies and weighting the probability of certain future events. Changes in any or all of these estimates and assumptions or the relationships between those assumptions impact our valuations as of each valuation date and may have a material impact on the fair value we recorded for WUP common interests and ultimately how much equity-based compensation expense is recognized.
The grant date fair value calculated using the methodology discussed above is also utilized with respect to WUP profit interests and restricted interests. WUP restricted interests had a performance condition, as well as a service condition to vest. As a result, no compensation expense is recognized until the performance condition has been satisfied. Subsequent to satisfaction of the performance condition, compensation expense is recognized to the extent the requisite service period has been completed and compensation expense thereafter is recognized on a straight-line basis over the remaining requisite service period.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
For further information on recent accounting pronouncements, see Note 2, Summary of Significant Accounting Policies of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included herein.

ITEM 7A. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK
In the ordinary course of operating our business, we are exposed to market risks. Market risk represents the risk of loss that may impact our financial position or results of operations due to adverse changes in financial market prices and rates. Our principal market risks have related to interest rates, aircraft fuel and inflation.
Interest Rates
On July 21, 2021, we repaid substantially all of the outstanding principal of our long-term debt, together with all accrued and unpaid interest, in connection with proceeds received from the Business Combination.
Aircraft Fuel
We are subject to market risk associated with changes in the price and availability of aircraft fuel. Aircraft fuel expense for the year ended December 31, 2021 represented 15% of our total cost of revenue and includes the recharge of fuel costs to our aircraft management customers. Based on our 2021 fuel consumption, a hypothetical 10% increase in the average price per gallon of aircraft fuel would have increased fuel expense by approximately $16.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2021. We do not purchase or hold any derivative instruments to protect against the effects of changes in fuel but due to our dynamic pricing we do have some ability to raise our prices on flights not subject to a capped rate. In addition, our agreements allow us to potentially bill members a fuel price surcharge, but we have never exercised the right to apply this surcharge.

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ITEM 8. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA

INDEX TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
Page
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REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

Board of Directors and Shareholders
Wheels Up Experience Inc.
Opinion on the financial statements
We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of Wheels Up Experience Inc. (a Delaware corporation) and subsidiaries (the “Company”) as of December 31, 2021 and 2020, the related consolidated statements of operations, equity, and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2021, and the related notes (collectively referred to as the “financial statements”). In our opinion, the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Company as of December 31, 2021 and 2020, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2021, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.
Basis for opinion
These financial statements are the responsibility of the Company’s management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company’s financial statements based on our audits. We are a public accounting firm registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (“PCAOB”) and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.
We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether due to error or fraud. The Company is not required to have, nor were we engaged to perform, an audit of its internal control over financial reporting. As part of our audits we are required to obtain an understanding of internal control over financial reporting but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting. Accordingly, we express no such opinion.
Our audits included performing procedures to assess the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to error or fraud, and performing procedures that respond to those risks. Such procedures included examining, on a test basis, evidence regarding the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. Our audits also included evaluating the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the financial statements. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.
Critical audit matter
The critical audit matter communicated below is a matter arising from the current period audit of the financial statements that was communicated or required to be communicated to the audit committee and that: (1) relate to accounts or disclosures that are material to the financial statements and (2) involved our especially challenging, subjective, or complex judgments. The communication of the critical audit matter does not alter in any way our opinion on the financial statements, taken as a whole, and we are not, by communicating the critical audit matter below, providing separate opinions on the critical audit matter or on the accounts or disclosures to which it relates.
Goodwill
As described in Note 7 to the financial statements, the Company performed a goodwill impairment assessment as of October 1, 2021, the date of its annual impairment test, and again as of December 15, 2021 due to the presence of certain indicators resulting in a triggering event. We identified the Company’s goodwill impairment assessment as a critical audit matter.

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The principal considerations for our determination that this is a critical audit matter are the significant management estimates and judgments required to assess the reporting unit’s fair value, which include the determination of discount rates, revenue growth rates, margins, and other projected long-term rates. Auditing these estimates and assumptions requires a high degree of auditor judgment.
Our audit procedures related to the goodwill impairment testing included the following, among others:
We evaluated management’s identification of triggering events, which included consideration of current market conditions.
We evaluated management’s revenue growth rates, margins, and cash flows for consistency with relevant historical data, recent changes in the business, and external industry data and forecasts.
With the assistance of our valuation professionals with specialized skills and knowledge, we evaluated the valuation methodologies, inputs, and assumptions utilized by management.
We performed sensitivity analyses on the future revenue, long-term growth rates, margins, and discount rates used to evaluate the impact changes in these assumptions have on management’s conclusion.
We tested management’s reconciliation of the carrying value of the Company to its market value.

/s/ GRANT THORNTON LLP

We have served as the Company’s auditor since 2014.
New York, New York
March 10, 2022
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WHEELS UP EXPERIENCE INC.
CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
(In thousands, except share data)
December 31, 2021December 31, 2020
ASSETS
Current assets:
Cash and cash equivalents$784,574 $312,799 
Accounts receivable, net79,403 50,397 
Other receivables8,061 8,205 
Parts and supplies inventories, net9,410 5,320 
Prepaid expenses and other 51,626 18,801 
Total current assets 933,074 395,522 
Property and equipment, net 317,836 323,090 
Operating lease right-of-use assets108,582 64,479 
Goodwill437,398 400,160 
Intangible assets, net146,959 163,710 
Restricted cash2,148 12,077 
Employee loans receivable, net 102 
Other non-current assets 35,067 849 
Total assets $1,981,064 $1,359,989 
LIABILITIES AND EQUITY
Current liabilities:
Current maturities of long-term debt$ $62,678 
Accounts payable 43,672 20,920 
Accrued expenses 107,153 71,381 
Deferred revenue, current933,527 651,096 
Operating lease liabilities, current31,617 15,858 
Intangible liabilities, current2,000 2,000 
Other current liabilities17,068 15,980 
Total current liabilities 1,135,037 839,913 
Long-term debt  148,411 
Deferred revenue, non-current1,957 1,982 
Operating lease liabilities, non-current83,461 56,358 
Warrant liability10,268  
Intangible liabilities, non-current14,083 16,083 
Other non-current liabilities30 3,415 
Total liabilities 1,244,836 1,066,162 
Commitments and contingencies (Note 11)
Equity:
Class A common stock, $0.0001 par value; 2,500,000,000 authorized; 245,834,569 and 169,717,416 shares issued and outstanding as of December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively
25 17 
Additional paid-in capital 1,450,839 798,478 
Accumulated deficit (720,713)(530,693)
Total Wheels Up Experience Inc. stockholders’ equity730,151 267,802 
Non-controlling interests6,077 26,025 
Total equity736,228 293,827 
Total liabilities and equity $1,981,064 $1,359,989 
The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.
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WHEELS UP EXPERIENCE INC.
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS
(In thousands, except share and per share data)
Year Ended December 31,
202120202019
Revenue$1,194,259 $694,981 $384,912 
Costs and expenses:
Cost of revenue1,117,633 634,775 340,673 
Technology and development 33,579 21,010 13,965 
Sales and marketing 80,071 55,124 40,624 
General and administrative 113,331 64,885 28,426 
Depreciation and amortization54,198 58,529 39,352 
CARES Act grant (76,376) 
Gain on sale of aircraft held for sale(1,275)  
Total costs and expenses1,397,537 757,947 463,040 
Loss from operations(203,278)(62,966)(78,128)
Other income (expense):
Change in fair value of warrant liability17,951   
Loss on extinguishment of debt(2,379)  
Interest income53 550 615 
Interest expense(9,519)(22,989)(29,360)
Total other income (expense)6,106 (22,439)(28,745)
Loss before income taxes(197,172)(85,405)(106,873)
Income tax expense(58)