Jet Linx And Wheels Up Enter Vertical-Lift Partnerships

Credit: Bell Textron

Private aviation companies Jet Linx Aviation and Wheels Up have entered into partnerships to offer helicopter transportation services, eventually leading to new urban-air-mobility vehicles.

Jet Linx Aviation is participating in a “binding agreement” announced on April 13 between network provider Blade Urban Air Mobility and Beta Technologies, developer of the Alia-250 electric-vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Blade has committed to purchasing up to 20 Alias via its operators or third-party financing sources.

As part of the agreement, Blade will support electric-vertical-aircraft purchases by Omaha, Nebraska-based Jet Linx and other operators through minimum flight-hour guarantees. Jet Linx is backed by private investment firm RedBird Capital Partners, which is also a strategic investor in Blade and Beta.

Plans call for Blade to introduce passenger-configured Alias in 2025, using routes within its network of dedicated terminals in the Northeast U.S. Beta Technologies has agreed to install its battery-charging stations at certain key locations, according to the announcement.

“Blade is laser-focused on its transition from conventional rotorcraft to electric vertical aircraft,” said CEO Rob Wiesenthal. “The Alia’s extremely low sound footprint, coupled with its zero emissions design, will enable us to reduce the noise and environmental impact to the communities surrounding the existing heliport and airport infrastructure we currently use.”

Blade’s “asset-light” business model “allows us to leverage our significant flight volumes and third-party financing relationships to enable the purchase of Beta aircraft by our operator partners,” Wiesenthal added.

Wheels Up and Bell Textron on April 9 announced a collaboration to provide helicopter service beginning this year in unspecified high-demand markets, while at the same time exploring “innovation opportunities to reduce overall environmental impact.” Bell is developing a concept passenger eVTOL aircraft called Nexus.

Wheels Up will provide its service through the Avianis flight-scheduling platform, which it acquired in 2019.

“We are always looking for different ways and new features to enhance the services we provide to our members and customers,” said Wheels Up founder and CEO Kenny Dichter. “This is a logical evolution of our systematic disruption of the aviation industry, and a vision to extend our holistic approach to air transportation.”

Wheels Up also will provide helicopter connections through its partnership with Delta Air Lines. “We must challenge the status quo as we envision the future of travel,” said Bill Lentsch, Delta’s chief customer experience officer. “We look forward to our customers being able to take advantage of the latest innovations from Wheels Up.”

The newly minted partnerships follow an April 7 announcement by package carrier UPS that it plans to purchase up to 150 Beta Technologies’ Alia-250s and associated charging stations, beginning in 2024.

Bill Carey

Based in Washington, D.C., Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.