Wheels Up's Dichter on his Delta deal, private jets and meatballs

By Doug Gollan, December 22, 2019

In a wide-ranging interview with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, the Wheels Up founder and CEO discussed the implications of its Delta Private Jets deal plus its upcoming Super Bowl LIV party

Wheel Up CEO last week joined Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo on Mornings with Maria. And while there was talk of his deal with Delta Air Lines to merge Delta Private Jets with Wheels Up, there were also meatballs.

As part of the eight-minute segment, Dichter discussed Super Bowl LIV, to be held February in Miami. It will mark the second year in a row it is partnering with Rao’s for a pop-up restaurant as part of its hospitality for the Big Game.

While some have written the deal with Delta is an exit for the airline from private aviation, Dichter told Bartiromo, “Wheels Up and Delta are coming together.”

Fox Business Maria Bartiromo and Wheels Up CEO/Founder Kenny Dichter

In describing Delta, he also referred to the airline as a “tech company,” perhaps a hint about how Wheels Up might leverage the relationship.

Wheels Up – Delta Air Lines synergies

“Ninety, ninety-five percent of who travel on Wheels Up also fly commercial,” said Dichter. He added, “So we’re going to do some great things together both on the airline and Wheels Up.”

Dichter said part of the play with Delta is, “how do we make this bigger and more accessible to more people?”

Wheels Up Rao's Super Bowl Miami 2020 party

Wheels Up has massively remade its jet card membership program this year. It introduced fixed/capped rate offerings for light, super-midsize, and large cabin jets in addition to its King Air 350i fleet and midsize aircraft.

However, Dichter touted how his King Air fleet has made private flying more economical. With all eight seats full, the hourly price works out to just over $600 per seat.

Super Bowl LIV Miami 2020 Wheels Up

Dichter positions the aircraft, which all have WiFi, for flights under two hours. He notes they are convenient to land at smaller airports that don’t have the runway length for larger jets.

In terms of synergies with Delta, he also again referred to “last mile” opportunities. That means connecting from the airline’s scheduled flights to reach destinations without commercial service.

Wheels Up Rao's Super Bowl LIV Miami 2020

“You could go to San Francisco (on Delta) and pop over to Napa. That could never be done before,” Dichter told Bartiromo, adding, “We’re focusing on the 80% of private flights that are less than two hours.”

Benefits of Flying Privately

Bartiromo advocated the benefits of flying privately. “The convenience of it is just beyond. It’s so much easier…I know it. I’ve done it,” she said.

Rao's Wheels Up LIV Super Bowl Miami

Dichter said so far this year Wheels Up has flown over 6,000 flights. He said, “With the Dow, we’re seeing increased activity. There’s more interest in what we are doing, and business is very firm.”

His comments echo those of Sentient Jet CEO Andrew Collins, also last week, made to Yahoo Finance. He said, “I feel confident in our go-forward projections…it’s pretty robust.”

Wheels Up Super Bowl LIV Miami

The discussion also ranged to include meatballs. Wheels Up is partnering with famous Italian eatery Rao’s for a pop-up restaurant during Super Bowl LIV in Miami this February.

In the segment, Dichter dubbed Rao’s executive chef Dino Gatto, “The Bill Belichick of meatballs.”

If you are curious about the recipe, Gatto says in addition to love, “Everything is simple.” He said ingredients include bread crumbs, water, salt, pepper, garlic.

The partnership with Rao’s also extends to The Masters. Wheels Up has also expanded its events to Art Basel Miami and other high-profile venues.

Access to key lifestyle events is in fact pitched as a key benefit to its Connect membership launched in February.

Watch the interview here.


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