Delta Air Lines’ private jet business and private aviation company Wheels Up have reached a "definitive agreement" to establish one of the world's largest owned and managed fleets of private aircraft.
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Delta Private Jets, a subsidiary of Delta, will combine with New York City-based Wheels Up, a deal that would allow Delta to hold an equity position in the fast-growing private aviation company, according to Delta's announcement on Thursday.
The partnership with Delta is expected to close sometime in early 2020 and is said to provide "unparalleled" travel opportunities for more consumers, Delta said.
"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."
The agreement comes just after Wheels Up raised $128 million in funding back in August, putting its valuation at $1.1 billion. The multimillion-dollar fundraising round comes on the heels of Wheels Up's acquisition of Travel Management Company last May.
After the deal with Delta closes, Wheels Up will have a fleet of more than 190 private aircraft and over 8,000 members and customers, Delta said.
"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 Wheels Up’s founder and CEO Kenny Dichter.
More details will be announced when the deal closes, according to Delta. Until then, both Delta Private Jets and Wheels Up will continue to operate as normal.