Kenny Dichter, founder and CEO of Wheels Up, is set to receive the Eren Ozmen Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the 17th Annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards tonight at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.
The star-studded event, hosted by actor and aviation enthusiast John Travolta, honors those who have made significant contributions to aviation and aerospace.
Dichter joins other notable awardees from the group. They include Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Herb Kelleher, Sir Richard Branson, Kenn Ricci, David Neeleman, Thomas Flohr, and HH Sheik Al Maktoum among others.
In 2013, Dichter founded Wheels Up. In just three years joined NetJets as the most searched private aviation brands, according to Google.
Dichter’s vision was to leverage pent up demand at a lower price point and with guaranteed access. It led to the placement of the largest order in history for turboprops.
In just over six years, under Dichter’s leadership, Wheels Up, through its membership programs, innovative features and cutting edge technology, has achieved an enterprise valuation of over $1.5 billion and sold over 8,000 memberships.
Its recently announced deal to merge with Delta Private Jets will give it a fleet of close to 200 private aircraft.
“I’m honored to be receiving the Eren Ozmen Award following the long line of accomplished entrepreneurs who have received this prestigious award before me, and I hope that it inspires the next generation of entrepreneurs with disruptive ideas to dream big,” said Dichter.
He added, “Wheels Up’s tremendous growth is a testament to our incredible employees as well as our investors and partners. Together, we’ve created a brand that will continue to lead the market.”
In 2001, Dichter co-founded Marquis Jet Partners, introducing the first-ever fractional jet card program.
Marquis, over the course of a decade, generated over $5 billion in revenue, culminating in its 2010 sale to NetJets.
That same year Dichter co-founded Tequila Avion, an ultra-premium brand acquired by Pernod Ricard in 2014 for over $100 million.
Dichter’s career began at the University of Wisconsin. There he started Bucky’s, a clothing store that quickly became popular with students on campus.
After graduating, Dichter co-founded Alphabet City, a sports-marketing and music company that was sold to SFX Entertainment in 1998.
Dichter chairs the Council of Advocates at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, working with Dr. Ken Davis, Mount Sinai’s Chairman and CEO. He also serves on the Board of the Jack Martin Fund, working with the pediatric oncology department.