Wheels Up Appoints George N. Mattson as CEO

Sept. 14, 2023
Wheels Up
George Mattson, Wheels Up CEO
George Mattson, Wheels Up CEO

Wheels Up Experience Inc. has announced George N. Mattson as its new chief executive officer, as the company charts its future as a leader in private jet travel. Mattson brings 25 years of aviation experience to the role, as a strategic advisor, financier, business owner/operator and director.

"In 10 years, Wheels Up has grown from a startup into a global leader in private aviation, with a strong consumer brand and loyal member community," Mattson said. "I look forward to leading the Wheels Up team, with the operational, commercial, strategic and financial support of Delta and our other new investors. Delivering best-in-class operating performance and exceptional customer experiences, consistently and profitably, will attract more members to our community as we begin the next chapter of the Wheels Up story."

"George is an exceptional business leader whose background will be instrumental to the continued success of Wheels Up," said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. "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."

Mattson is a longstanding member of Delta's Board of Directors. He previously served as a partner and co-head of the Global Industrials Group in Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs & Co. from 2002 to 2012, during which time his responsibilities included oversight of the Transportation and Airline practices. Since 2014, he has been the lead investor and Chairman of Tropic Ocean Airways, the nation's second-largest operator of seaplanes. Tropic Ocean Airways is a Wheels Up partner.

"I look forward to working with George as he brings his expertise and leadership to Wheels Up," said Dan Janki, Wheels Up Chairman and Delta's Chief Financial Officer. "I would also like to thank 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 state-of-the-art Member Operations Center, which centralizes all of the company's operational functions. Mattson's first official day is expected to be in early October.

"Our alignment with Delta provides an incredible opportunity for the first time in aviation history to create seamless experiences between the separate ecosystems of private and commercial travel," Mattson said. "I'm thrilled to be working with our world class team and our great partners to realize this tremendous potential in the years to come."

"I am very enthusiastic about the future of Wheels Up. George is an exceptional choice to lead the company through this important time.  He will serve customers, employees, and stakeholders consistent with the elevated experiences that have always defined Wheels Up," said Kenny Dichter, founder. "The entire Wheels Up community has my unwavering support on the journey ahead."

Wheels Up previously announced a non-binding agreement in principle for an up to $500 million facility, which is expected to include funds contributed by Delta Air Lines, CK Opportunities Fund I, LP, which is co-managed by affiliates of Certares Management LLC and Knighthead Capital Management LLC, and certain other lenders. The transaction is subject to completing definitive documentation, as well as customary closing conditions and other approvals.

Wheels Up, which offers membership-based and on-demand private jet services, is a meaningful part of Delta's broad portfolio of premium partners. The relationship dates to 2020, when Delta Private Jets combined with Wheels Up. Delta provides Wheels Up members with an array of benefits, including access to Delta flights, the opportunity to earn Delta SkyMiles and the ability to earn toward Medallion Status through spend on Wheels Up flights.