Delta Up: Kenny Dichter’s latest deal (for now)

Alasdair Whyte
By Alasdair Whyte December 14, 2019 20:13

Delta Up: Kenny Dichter’s latest deal (for now)

Few people can sell or market a business as brilliantly as Kenny Dichter, the founder and CEO of Wheels Up.

 

He has proven this with the private aviation company Wheels Up and with other start-ups he co-founded including Marquis Jet, Avion Tequila, Juice Press, and Alphabet City Records.

 

Dichter literally gets out of bed every morning ready to hustle and do deals.

 

This week he closed another big one. Wheels Up is partnering with Delta Air Lines, which involves taking over Delta Private Jets – the 30+ year old private aviation division of the airline. In return, Delta Air Lines becomes the largest investor in Wheels Up – alongside financial investors Franklin Templeton, Fidelity and T. Rowe Price.

 

“This ground-breaking partnership will democratize private aviation – making the convenience of private-jet travel accessible to more consumers,” said Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines.

 

Wheels Up will add Delta Private Jet’s staff and fleet of over 70 private jets to its current fleet of 119 planes – a mixture of King Air 350i, Hawker 400XP, Citation Excel/XLS and Citation X aircraft. When the deal closes, Wheels Up will have one of the world’s largest fleets of private aircraft and over 8,000 members and customers.

 

“Bringing together our complementary businesses, which represent the best consumer brands in private and commercial aviation, is transformative and a first for the industry,” said Dichter.  Wheels Up today is a very different business than the King Air membership company that Dichter founded in 2013. This is Wheels Up’s third M&A deal in 2019 – it bought wholesale charter operator TMC in June and private aviation technology company AVIANIS in October.

 

Wheels Up is investing heavily in technology. It wants to make booking an aircraft, either a Wheels Up owned plane or a safety-vetted partner operator aircraft (it says it already has more than 1,250 signed up) as easy as booking an Uber. “Amazon started with books and then took on the world, King Airs are our books,” says Dichter. “We are going to build the most consumer-friendly private aviation company in the world.”

 

And having agreed to the Delta transaction, Dichter is already off working on his next deal to make his vision happen.

Alasdair Whyte
By Alasdair Whyte December 14, 2019 20:13

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