Connor takes over at NetJets Europe

 - November 2, 2009, 8:53 AM

New NetJets chairman and interim CEO David Sokol has begun making changes at NetJets Europe, appointing a new boss to run the business and implement job cuts at its headquarters. Eric Connor has been appointed the new CEO and chairman of NetJets Europe following the October 4 resignation of CEO William Kelly “to pursue his own interests.”

Connor will transition from his current role as senior vice president and chief procurement officer of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company (MEHC), of which Sokol is chairman. Like NetJets, MEHC is a Berkshire Hathaway company. Connor has been with the energy group since 1992.

“Eric is the right person to take NetJets Europe through its next phase of growth; he has significant experience in running large profitable companies and a strong track record,” said Sokol.

On October 1, NetJets Europe announced that it will reduce its workforce by 6 percent, shedding about 100 positions. All the jobs will be lost from operational functions at the company’s NetJets Transportes Aéreos operating company based in Lisbon, Portugal. The company has said that the reduction will not compromise safety or customer service and is part of a strategic business review that “aligns the company [with] current market conditions.”

A few months ago, NetJets Europe announced that it had achieved its goal of reducing flight crew capacity by 60,000 pilot duty days per year in response to declining demand for its fractional ownership and block-charter services. The reductions were made following a three-month consultation process that has resulted in significant numbers of flight crew taking one of the following five options: either a long- or short-term leave of absence, job sharing, part-time work or voluntary redundancy.

In the process, the company said that it had avoided the need for any layoffs among its pilots. It remains to be seen whether NetJets Europe’s new management will see the need for further adjustment to flight crew employment levels.