Delta Air Lines announced today it will acquire a stake in, and combine its Delta Private Jets charter-management arm with, private aviation provider Wheels Up. After expected closure early next year, the companies said, the transaction will create one of the industry’s largest owned and managed fleets of private aircraft. Delta Private Jets has a fleet of more than 70 managed business aircraft, while Wheels Up has an owned fleet of more than 115 Textron Aviation turboprop twins and jets. Terms of the deal were not disclosed and Delta said more details will be announced after the transaction closes.
“This groundbreaking partnership will democratize private aviation, making the convenience of private jet travel accessible to more consumers,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “Wheels Up’s lifestyle experiences and innovative digital platform, combined with the scale and service of Delta Private Jets, helps further Delta’s mission of connecting people and communities worldwide through travel.”
Wheels Up founder and CEO Kenny Dichter will continue leading the Wheels Up management team as the partnership grows between the two companies.
“Bringing together our complementary businesses, which represent the best consumer brands in private and commercial aviation, is transformative and a first for the industry,” he said. “The combination of Wheels Up and Delta Private Jets, along with the commitments between Delta and Wheels Up, aligns with our growth objectives and vision of building a platform that will make private flying and the private flying lifestyle accessible to significantly more individuals and businesses in the U.S. and around the world.”
“Delta Private Jets is combining with Wheels Up,” a Delta spokeswoman confirmed told AIN. “DPJ‘s customers and fleets will continue to operate with no customer interruption. Wheels Up is committed to providing ongoing career opportunities for Delta Private Jets employees.”