The private jet card provider announced former Virgin Australia COO Gary Hammes as its new boss.

 

According to a press release issued earlier today, Delta Private Jets has named Gary Hammes as President of the private jet operator.  Hammes, the company said,  will be responsible for “both financial and operational performance, growing the Delta Private Jets brand and the seamless travel solution, and transforming the customer service platform.” He replaces David Sneed who left without a formal announcement last month. Sneed’s departure was exclusively reported by Private Jet Card Comparisons on June 21, 2017. 

 

Hammes, the release continued, is a 30-year airline veteran, most recently serving as Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Australia where he oversaw a fleet of 130 aircraft, three independent Aircraft Operating Certificates, and maximizing worldwide revenue.  Hammes also previously served as the Senior Vice President and COO at World Airways and ASTAR Air Cargo Inc.

 

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Under Sneed, Delta Private Jets (DPJ) more closely aligned itself with Delta Air Lines, creating a close relationship with American Express, enabling members of the SkyMiles frequent flier program to redeem miles for jet cards, and extending Delta’s popular VIP Porsche transfers to DPJ customers connecting to or from flights on the airline. The idea was that a DPJ customer flying from South Bend, Indiana would be met at the FBO in Detroit and taken across the tarmac directly to security clearance for a connection on Delta to perhaps London or Beijing. It’s estimated 80% of private jet flights are less than two hours, and Sneed said looking at customer data, while some DPJ customers fly privately on international long-haul flights, many go commercially. DPJ members have long been able to gain status on the airline so tightening the relationship seems to make sense. Sneed also championed a program of co-investing with its aircraft owners to upgrade the interiors of older aircraft and install WiFi across its managed fleet.

 

Will Delta Private Jets follow XOJET and add monthly fees?

 

DPJ is expected to announce changes to its jet card programs at some point this year, although it’s not clear how significant they will be. Earlier this month competitor XOJET added a membership fee and monthly fees to its program, according to exclusive reporting by Private Jet Card Comparisons. XOJET also added Midsize and Light Jet programs to its Elite Access tier and launched a new $50,000 program featuring dynamic pricing.  Previously, its entry level program started at $100,000.

 

Hammes, Delta said, has built “a notable track record of strategic operational accomplishments.  He has proven to be a successful and reliable leader and brings to this position a strong reputation for improving operational efficiency, surpassing budget expectations, and improved employee engagement and customer service metrics.  Delta Private Jets is dedicated to becoming the industry leader, further strengthening its position in the private jet industry, and accelerating a strategic shift to capitalize on new initiatives and opportunities. ”

 

Virgin Australia is a code-sharing partner of Delta Air Lines, however, it is a separate company from Virgin America, which was recently acquired by the Alaska Air Group. Delta has a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic, the original airline conceived by Sir Richard Branson. Down under, Virgin Australia has been pushing rival Qantas to be more competitive and also improve its service. Virgin Australia was founded in 1999 as Virgin Blue before changing its name to Virgin Australia. Qantas, now publicly traded, but previously government owned, is one of the world’s oldest airlines, tracing its routes back to 1921.

 

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In the strange world of aviation, Hammes will now find himself on the opposite side of one of the more nasty feuds in recent years.  Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airlines was a major shareholder and financial supporter of Virgin Australia. Delta has been a leader in a campaign that includes American Airlines and United Airlines bashing Etihad, Qatar Airways and Emirates for alleged government subsidies and unfair competition. Delta CEO Ed Bastian recently release a 15-minute video attacking the Middle East airlines, including Etihad. In 2013, the CEO of Qantas criticized Etihad’s investment in Virgin Australia.

 

“I am pleased to join Delta Private Jets and work with a strong team of leaders to create an even more dynamic, innovative, and service-oriented culture to transform our position in the industry,” described Hammes.

 

Delta Private Jets, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL), provides aircraft charter services, aircraft management, and the Delta Private Jets Card. It operates an FBO (Fixed Base Operation), the Delta Jet Center, at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), as well as the Tech Service Center, a comprehensive maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility (MRO). Delta Private Jets has a more than 30-year history dating back to Comair, a commuter airline that Delta Air Lines acquired.  It currently operates over 70 Wi-Fi equipped aircraft in the fleet (light, mid-size, super-midsize and large), is IS-BAO,  ARGUS Platinum, and Wyvern Wingman.

 

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About the Author Doug Gollan

I study and write about Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) consumers, luxury travel, the business of luxury and private aviation, particularly jet cards