Wheels Up Acquires Travel Management Company, a Light Jet Operator

Travel Management Company
Image: prnewswire.com

A member of the Florida Council of 100, Justin Firestone was selected to join a group of top Florida business leaders who advise the Governor. Also a founding partner of the private aviation company Wheels Up, Justin Firestone led the company in placing a $1.4 billion aviation order, the largest single order ever in the general aviation industry.

Wheels Up, a membership-based aircraft charter company, announced in June 2019 it had acquired Travel Management Company (TMC), a large US-based light jet operator with a fleet of Hawker 400XP aircraft. The acquisition of TMC will help Wheels Up meet increasing demand from its members to charter high-quality light jets. With the addition of TMC’s fleet of 26 Hawker 400XPs, Wheels Up now has access to nearly 120 private aircraft.

Operating as an independent subsidiary of Wheels Up, TMC will continue to serve its existing wholesale channel partners out of it current base in Elkhart, Indiana. TMC is excited to become part of the recognized Wheels Up brand and benefit from its talented leadership, said TMC CEO Phil Dodyk.


Wheels Up Membership and How Members Help Define Pillars of Success

Justin Firestone pic
Justin Firestone

A member of the Florida Council of 100, Justin Firestone is a prominent figure in the private jet industry in Asia and the US who possesses nearly two decades of aviation and investment experience. Justin Firestone is a founding partner of Wheels Up, a private aviation company that placed the highest general air-transportation order ever in 2013 through a deal valued at over $1.4 billion.

The New York-based business is working to democratize private aviation and possesses a membership base of 5,000 members. Most of these individuals spend an average of around $75,000 annually and use the company’s services between five and eight times each year. They also play a part in creating Wheels Up’s pillars of success, according to the company’s founding partner. In this regard, he says some key qualities include reliability, responsiveness, and the ability to rise early.

A Wheels Up membership grants access to an exclusive fleet comprised of aircraft such as the King Air 350i turboprop, Citation X, and Citation Excel/XLS jets. The latter reaches speeds of 700 miles per hour, making it the fastest private jet available. Members can also schedule flights in as few as 24 hours at any time of the year to destinations such as Mexico, Canada, and regions across Europe.

The Committees of the Florida Council of 100 – An Overview

Florida Council of 100 pic
Florida Council of 100
Image: fc100.org

An entrepreneur and private jet expert, Justin Firestone holds a degree from Arizona State University, where he studied communications and business. Currently, Justin Firestone operates Firestone Management Group and serves as a founding partner of Wheels Up in New York.

Mr. Firestone also leverages his business expertise as a member of the Florida Council of 100, a nonprofit organization that promotes economic growth for the state of Florida. The council works closely with Florida’s governor and other policymakers, and produces reports that focus on business-driven public policy.

The Florida Council of 100 currently operates four committees that focus on specific policy areas. These include:

Higher Education – a committee that has focused on issues related to Florida’s public and private colleges and universities since its formation in 2007. Topics covered include governance, policies, processes, and funding.

Pre-K-12 Education – also formed in 2007, this committee addresses issues that impact childhood education. For example, standards and assessments, system accountability, school choice, and funding are addressed.

Business Climate and Policy – formed in 2012, this committee addresses topics that impact the economic health of Florida and produces business climate and policy publications.

Constitution Revision Commission Task Force – a special task force formed in 2016, this group offers recommendations made by the Constitution Revision Commission in Florida.

Florida Council of 100 Urges Increased University R&D Commercializing

Florida Council of 100
Image: fc100.org

The founder of Firestone Management Group, Justin Firestone is a veteran of the US private aviation industry. Justin Firestone is also a member of the Florida Council of 100, which comprises top business leaders across Florida who advise the Governor on key policy issues to improve the economic wellbeing of Floridians. 

In April 2018, the Council released a “Best Practices in Business-Academic Research and Development Collaboration” report that highlighted a deficiency in state universities’ R&D commercialization activities. Florida’s academic institutions invest $2.4 billion annually in R&D, generating a 2 percent annual return in the form of licensing income, while supporting 55,000 jobs and spurring $7.6 billion in economic activity. However, Florida’s academic institutions still lag behind 16 other states whose institutions generate higher returns from their commercial R&D activities.

In the report, the Council recommends three actions to address the relative shortfall in universities’ R&D commercialization: recruit world-class faculty, build robust R&D machinery, and emphasize the commercialization mission. These three actions are further broken down into 21 specific steps that can be taken to improve Florida universities’ R&D commercialization programs so as to create jobs and wealth for state residents.

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