Why You Won’t Be Able to Fly Private on Delta Anymore

A private jet
Photo: Nick Dolding/Getty Images

Delta Air Lines is selling its private jet branch to a company called Wheels Up in a deal expected to close early next year.

“We’ve never been able to leverage and garner the type of marketing power and brand that a Wheels Up will provide,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian told Bloomberg. “It got lost under Delta’s umbrella somewhat and was never able to attract the type of sales and marketing dollars needed to create a separate platform.”

Bastian said that the private jet business was only ever “marginally profitable” for Delta.

Although the airline is getting out of the private jet business, it will retain a stake in Wheels Up.

Delta Private Jets had a fleet of about 190 aircraft and more than 8,000 members who paid at least $150,000 for jet cards to use the service. Combining with Wheels Up will create one of the largest owned and managed private fleets of aircraft.

Wheels Up has about 6,000 members and advertises itself as an on-demand aviation company. Members are able to use the company’s app to reserve a private flight with as little as 24 hours’ notice.

The company says it reduces the cost of flying private for someone who only does so occasionally. Members can choose from three different tiers depending on how often they’re boarding jets. They also have the option to flight share and greatly reduce their cost.

Delta wasn’t the only major airline with a private jet component. Last year, JetBlue announced a codeshare partnership with charter airline JSX that allowed passengers to book flights and earn JetBlue’s TrueBlue points.

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