Wheels Up taps Southwest sales boss as Chief Commercial Officer

Southwest Airlines veteran Dave Harvey is the new Chief Commercial Officer at Delta Air Lines-backed Wheels Up.

By Doug Gollan, May 6, 2024

Southwest Airlines Chief Sales Officer Dave Harvey is the new Chief Commercial Officer at Wheels Up.

The move continues the influx of airline leadership since a Delta Air Lines-backed investment group took 95% control of the private aviation flight provider last September.

Harvey will lead commercial strategy.

According to the announcement, the move will “further strengthen Wheels Up’s position at the forefront of the premium aviation industry.”

Delta CEO Ed Bastian believes that having a private aviation solution will give the airline a strategic advantage, particularly with regard to corporate customers. The airline has over 40,000 accounts and competes with American Airlines, United Airlines, and Southwest.

Harvey joined Southwest in 1998 as an analyst.

As Chief Sales Officer, he managed Southwest’s B2B segment, “significantly increasing the airline’s market share among business travelers.”

He also led the integration of AirTran, the expansion of Dallas Love Field, and the growth of the company’s international travel network.

Most Influential

Business Travel News named Harvey among the 25 Most Influential People in Business Travel in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2023.

“After an extensive search, I am delighted that we have been able to add such a talented and accomplished leader to our team at Wheels Up,” said CEO George Mattson.

He added, “Wheels Up’s focus on profitable growth while continuing to deliver operational excellence is key to our continued success in 2024 and beyond, and Dave’s incredible track record at Southwest uniquely positions him to lead our commercial team in building the integrated strategy of the future.”

Mattson, who served on the Delta board before his current position, noted, “Bringing key elements of our commercial engine closer together will further our mission to build the durable business model our members and investors deserve. As we continue to build the best team in the industry, we look forward to Dave joining Wheels Up and hitting the ground running.”

Harvey said, “Over the past eight months, Wheels Up has made great strides towards its goal of becoming the best-run private aviation company in the world and building a strategy in support of its vision of delivering premium aviation solutions for every customer on every flight, across both the commercial and private aviation ecosystems.”

READ: A brief history of Airlines and Private Jet partnerships

Targeting new markets

According to Cirium, Southwest’s top 10 cities for seats are Denver, Las Vegas, Chicago, Baltimore, Dallas, Phoenix, Houston, Nashville, Orlando, and St. Louis.

Only Orlando is among the 10 busiest cities for Delta.

Harvey officially begins his role at Wheels Up on May 20, 2024.

Wheels Up will report its Q1 financials on Thursday.

Management has said it is on track to reach EBITDA profitability by the end of the year.

Last year, Wheels Up cut its primary service area for guaranteed programs to eliminate unprofitable flying.

Despite the cuts, it was the fourth-largest charter/fractional operator in North America last year.

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