Wheels Up taps Hilton Hotels for Chief Legal Officer

By Doug Gollan, January 19, 2021

After plucking a former Amazon and Airbnb executive to lead its Wheels Up marketplace at the end of December, and a GE and eBay alum as human resources boss last week, today Wheels Up tapped Hilton Worldwide. Laura Heltebran joins the diversified private aviation provider as the chief legal officer. She will oversee all legal, corporate governance, privacy, IP, compliance, and risk, reporting to Wheels Up founder and CEO Kenny Dichter.

“We are thrilled Laura is joining Wheels Up, and her expertise working within the hospitality and technology industries for some of the world’s most recognizable brand names like Hilton and Hewlett Packard Enterprise will be a great asset to all of us,” Dichter said.


“I am excited to become part of the Wheels Up team at this incredible time of growth and ongoing innovation,” said Heltebran.

She added, “The company has been a democratizing force in private aviation, and I look forward to bringing my cross-sector experience to Wheels Up as we continue to disrupt the industry.”

Over the past 20 months, Wheels Up has made five acquisitions, launched an aircraft sales unit, consolidated the aircraft management teams at Delta Private Jets and Gama Aviation Signature, and been regularly adding senior-level talent (see Keeping Score at Wheels Up).

Heltebran most recently served as senior vice president and deputy general counsel of Hilton Worldwide. She was responsible for worldwide litigation, compliance, employment, benefits, and technology for its 18 brands in 118 countries.

Keeping Score at Wheels Up

Hires Hilton Worldwide, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Xerox alum Laura Heltebran as Chief Legal Officer
Hires Adobe, eBay, GE exec Francesca Molinari as Chief People Officer
January 2021Buys Mountain Aviation, 10th largest U.S. charter operator with largest U.S. Citation X fleet
December 2020Hires Airbnb and Amazon exec Greg Greeley as chairman of its marketplace
December 2020Hires Grey Goose, Patron marketing boss Lee Applbaum as Chief Marketing Officer
November 2020Wheels Up CEO Kenny Dichter tells Corporate Jet Investor conference $1 billion in revenues and profitability in sight for 2021
October 2020Delta Air Lines’ filing reveals its 24% stake in Wheels Up is valued at $234 million, nearly twice the value of its 9% holdings in Air France KLM Group
September 2020Combines Delta Private Jets and Gama Aviation Signature management units to launch Wheels Up Aircraft Management
August 2020Recruits three top execs from QS Partners and Jetcraft to launch Wheels Up Aircraft Sales
August 2020Appoints former JetSuite president Stephanie Chung as Chief Business Officer targeting diverse growth markets
June 2020Wheels Up Partners Holdings LLC receives $74 million in CARES Act support after private aviation flights drop by 75%
March 2020Buys Gama Aviation Signature, the largest U.S. charter operator
February 2020Appoints former Delta Air Lines SVP Gail Grimmett as Chief Experience Officer
December 2019Buys Delta Private Jets, 4th largest U.S. charter operator with Delta Air Lines taking a 24% stake in Wheels Up
September 2019Buys tech platform Avianis to expand its charter marketplace
August 2019Raises $128 million in Series D from Franklin Templeton, T. Rowe Price, and Fidelity Management
June 2019Buys Travel Management Company (TMC Jets), the 9th largest U.S. charter operator
February 2019Launches Connect membership to target entry-level flyers
Source: Private Jet Card Comparisons

Before her time at Hilton, Heltebran served as senior vice president and deputy general counsel of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, senior vice president and senior corporate counsel of Xerox, Inc, and other major corporations including Time Warner and The Coca-Cola Company.

Women in aviation

Heltebran becomes the fourth female executive-level corporate appointment for Wheels Up in the past year, entering an industry where women are largely underrepresented in the C-suite.

The new legal boss tells Private Jet Card Comparisons, “You can’t help but notice that Kenny is so leaned into bringing strong women and gender diversity.”

Heltebran holds a Juris Doctorate degree from George Mason University School of Law and an undergraduate degree from George Mason University.


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