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MEBAA (Middle East & North Africa Business Aviation Association)
MEBAA (Middle East & North Africa Business Aviation Association)
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Delta and Knighthead take the reigns at Wheels Up
The partnership combines the experience of Delta, a premium airline and a longstanding Wheels Up partner, with the travel and tourism focus of Certares and turnaround and restructuring experience of Knighthead.

Earlier this year, Wheels Up announced plans to scale and evolve its product offerings. Funding from Delta, investment specialist Certares Management and Knighthead Capital Management is expected to provide the stability to execute on this long term strategic vision. The news comes on the back of losses for Wheels Up and the resignation of its CEO and founder Kenny Dichter.

The partnership would combine the experience of Delta with the travel and tourism focus of Certares and turnaround and restructuring experience of Knighthead. It includes a non-binding agreement in principle totalling $500 million facility.

“The partnership will create new opportunities for Wheels Up to drive strategic, operational and financial improvements for its customers in the months and years ahead,” says Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “Delta's unmatched expertise in premium travel, customer loyalty, corporate sales, operational reliability and aircraft maintenance, combined with Certares' and Knighthead's experience and global reach, are expected to speed Wheels Up on its path to profitability.

“I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Kenny Dichter, the visionary founder behind Wheels Up, for building the brand into a powerhouse in private aviation. We have great appreciation for his steadfast devotion to the members, customers and employees, and his role in elevating the private aviation experience which will undoubtedly guide the industry's path forward. We're grateful he will continue as Wheels Up's strategic advisor.”

Wheels Up sincerely appreciates the unwavering support of so many of our members and customers,” says interim CEO and CFO Todd Smith. “Over the past few months, we have been intensely focused on taking clear steps to improve our product offering and our operational delivery. Those actions are already showing results, and we look forward to continuing and accelerating that progress with the support of our new partners. Our continued close work with the Delta team will enable us to further integrate our digital experiences, member benefits and our operations. We are extremely grateful for Delta's support and look forward to welcoming our new partners to the Wheels Up family and leveraging their expertise to further enhance our services and member experiences.”

Delta chief financial officer Dan Janki will join the Wheels Up board of directors as chairman, and Ravi Thakran will transition back to director from his role as executive chairman.

“I am pleased to officially welcome Dan as the chairman of the Wheels Up board of directors,” Thakran says. “I've been honoured to lead the company through this transition and generate global interest in Wheels Up as the premier experience in private aviation. Wheels Up should now be in a far stronger position to leverage its considerable assets in service of our members and continue to be an innovative leader in aviation.”

Membership and on demand operator Wheels Up has been a part of Delta's portfolio of partners since 2020, when Delta Private Jets combined with Wheels Up. Delta gives Wheels Up members access to Delta flights, Delta SkyMiles and Medallion Status through spend on Wheels Up flights.

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