Wheels Up makes executive moves to start 2022

By Doug Gollan, January 3, 2022

Wheels Up Experience is consolidating reporting under President Hegde and CMO Applbaum

The wheels are turning at Wheels Up Experience to start 2022 with several executive announcements.

Wheels Up expanded the roles of President Vinayak Hegde and Chief Marketing Officer Lee Applbaum.

Hegde will now have integrated ownership and accountability for both the demand generation and supply side of the Wheels Up marketplace. That includes all sales functions, member services, account management, technology, product, operations, and supply.

According to a press release, “This seamless connection of supply and demand, and holistic ownership of the functions is a critical step in the delivery of a transformative private aviation marketplace.”

Additionally, the offices of the Chief Experience Officer and Chief Marketing Officer have been combined under Applbaum.

The move will “provide integrated ownership of the customer experience funnel from acquisition through loyalty, including a continued focus on building the iconic Wheels Up brand,” the company said

Both Hegde and Applbaum will continue to report to Chairman and CEO Kenny Dichter.

Gail Grimmett, who served as Chief Experience Officer after joining from Wheels Up investor Delta Air Lines, continues on the Wheels Up Executive Leadership Team. She is now focusing on maximizing synergies with Delta and the strategic partnership signed in 2020, according to a spokesperson. An earlier version of this story reported she was returning to the Atlanta-based airline.

Sainte-Rose named Chief People Officer

Separately Stevens J. Sainte-Rose lands as Chief People Officer. In this role, Sainte-Rose will lead all aspects of human resources and culture, including organizational design, talent acquisition, development, and retention. He will also head diversity and inclusion functions.

Sainte-Rose will report directly to Dichter. He replaces Francesca Molinari, who joined Wheels Up in January 2021 after stints at Adobe, eBay, and GE Capital.

Her appointment was one of more than a half dozen C-level hires designed to position Wheels Up for its IPO.

Sainte-Rose previously served as Senior Vice President of HR at The Coca-Cola Company International. He was also Chief Human Resources Officer at U.S. Walgreens and Chief HR and Transformation Officer at Dawn Foods Global. Most recently, he was Chief HR Officer at Parallel Inc.

Since going public in July, Wheels Up has fallen out of favor with analysts as losses increased despite record revenues.

In November, Wheels Up streamlined its capped rate membership offerings, increasing hourly rates, daily minimums, and call-outs, keeping peak days static.

Since June, demand has set records monthly, so many providers are retooling their programs. Dwindling supply combined with supply chain and labor shortages has led to record complaints from flyers.

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