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Sun, Sep 17, 2023

New Wheels Up CEO Named

Delta Air Lines Intensifies Efforts to Revive Beleaguered Carrier

Delta Air Lines board member George Mattson has been named CEO of New York City-based on-demand aircraft services provider Wheels Up. Mr. Mattson’s appointment follows the ascension of Delta CFO Dan Janki’s to the station of chairman of Wheels Up’s board.

Mattson’s installation ensued a 15 August ownership agreement by which Wheels Up ceded a 95-percent ownership-interest in exchange for a $500-million bailout from Delta Air Lines, Knighthead Capital Management, Certares Management, and others benefactors. Delta provided the embattled charter and fractional ownership concern an additional $15-million emergency cash-infusion.

The nonbinding bailout agreement comprised a $400-million term-loan—$150-million of which was provided by Delta—and a $100-million line of credit. The cash was intended to sustain Wheels Up’s operations as the company executed a new business plan described by former CEO/CFO Todd Smith as “focusing [scheduled] flights on the [U.S.] East and West Coasts, while running a charter model throughout the remainder of the nation.”

Mr. Mattson has served as a member of Delta’s board of directors since 2012. From 2002 to 2012, he served as a partner and co-head of the Global Industrials Group in Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs & Co. Since 2014, Mattson has functioned as the lead investor and chairman of Wheels Up partner organization Tropic Ocean Airways, the U.S.’s second-largest seaplane operator.

Delta CEO Ed Bastain stated: “George is an exceptional business leader whose background will be instrumental to the continued success of Wheels Up. With new leadership in place, Wheels Up is well-positioned to drive strategic, operational, and financial improvements for its customers and stakeholders in the months and years ahead.”

Newly-installed Wheel’s Up chairman and Delta CFO Dan Janki remarked: “I look forward to working with George [Mattson] as he brings his expertise and leadership to Wheels Up. I would also like to thank [former Wheels Up] interim CEO Todd Smith for his leadership through this period of transition at Wheels Up. The changes made during his tenure are expected to stabilize the business and will help drive future profitability and an elevated experience for our members. Todd will continue his work as Wheels Up CFO.”

Mattson will be based in Atlanta, home to the recently-opened Wheels Up Member Operations Center, which centralizes the entirety of the company’s operational functions. Mattson’s first official day is expected to be in early October.



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