NetJets begins consolidation of facilities and pilot groups

 - July 7, 2010, 3:30 AM

NetJets has begun an operational consolidation plan for two of its North American fractional aircraft subsidiaries– NetJets Aviation (NJA) and NetJets International (NJI). Columbus, Ohio-based NJA flies everything but the large-cabin Gulfstream fleet; NJI, based in Okatie, S.C., operates the fractional Gulfstream fleet, with the exception of the super-midsize G200.

“We will be relocating most of the NJI business functions from South Carolina and Georgia to our corporate and operational headquarters in Columbus,” NetJets chairman and CEO David Sokol told AIN. He expects this process to be completed by October. “The decision [to consolidate] was made after detailed analysis and careful deliberation and is the result of NetJets’ ongoing, long-term business planning process that began in the fall,” Sokol said.

To facilitate this consolidation, NetJets is embarking on a $21 million expansion project at its existing Port Columbus Regional Airport complex. The new 140,000-sq-ft facility that NetJets now intends to build will be connected to
its existing Bridgeway Avenue facility, where about 1,300 employees will work. According to Sokol, “We have closed five offices outside Ohio and relocated all of their related functions to Columbus, including the office of the CEO, operations, general counsel, sales, marketing and aircraft purchasing.” Eventually,
all of these divisions will be housed at Bridgeway.

Pilot Integration
One of the more thorny issues of the consolidation is to integrate the unionized NJA pilots and non-unionized NJI pilots.

The NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJAsap), the in-house union that represents NJA pilots, had envisioned such a merger and negotiated integration language in its contract. Specifically, the pilot contract that was amended two years ago contains a provision to integrate the two pilot groups, with the combined group to be represented by NJAsap.

“NJA and the pilot union entered a letter of agreement regarding the integration of the NJA and NJI pilot work groups as part of the interest-based bargaining process that occurred in 2007,” NetJets said. “In September 2008, NetJets initiated the process of integrating the NJA and NJI pilot work groups pursuant to that letter of agreement, and has been cooperating extensively with NJAsap since that time to ensure a smooth and transparent integration.”

NetJets maintains the recently announced consolidation of NJA and NJI operations will not have a material impact on the ongoing pilot integration process. However, NJAsap said, the consolidation plans did speed up the process, and consolidation should take place a month or two before the previously set date of November 21.