Delta Air Lines has agreed to merge its private-jet business with private-aviation company Wheels Up to create one of the world’s largest owned and managed fleets of private aircraft.

Terms where not disclosed, although the companies said in a Thursday announcement that the deal gives Delta an equity stake in Wheels Up, which will take over Delta’s private-jet business.

Wheels Up announced the completion of a funding round in August that valued it at $1.1 billion.

After the Delta deal’s expected close early next year, Wheels Up’s fleet will expand to more than 190 private planes from 115. Membership in the New York-based company — founded in 2013 by CEO Kenny Dichter with backing from Delta — will increase to 8,000 from 6,000.

“This groundbreaking partnership will democratize private aviation, making the convenience of private jet travel accessible to more consumers,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a statement.

Dichter added the merger would “make private flying and the private flying lifestyle accessible to significantly more individuals and businesses.”

The acquisition of Delta Private Jets gives Wheels Up gives enough heft to enter the competition — along with Directional Aviation and Vista Global — to challenge private-aviation behemoth NetJets.

Founded in 1964, Columbus, Ohio-based NetJets invented the concept of “fractional” airplane ownership while growing its fleet to 700 aircraft. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway acquired NetJets in 1998.

Delta’s Wheels Up deal advances a diversification strategy that already has the airline investing in overseas carriers and acquiring a jet-fuel refinery.

This strategy has helped Delta shares record a 10 percent gain this year, outpacing the performance of competitors American Airlines and United Airlines.

But so has the absence of the Boeing Co. 737 MAX in Delta’s fleet. The troubled passenger airliner — used by both American and United — was grounded in March after it crashed twice within five months.

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