NetJets Europe’s plan to take delivery of 30 new aircraft this year requires the addition of 130 to 140 pilots, said William Kelly, who just last month took over as CEO of NetJets Transportes Aereos (NTA), the operating arm of NetJets Europe. An accountant and lawyer, Kelly joined NetJets Europe in 2002 and worked as its CFO for the last three-and-a-half years. NTA is a Portuguese air carrier and partner of NetJets Europe, which is the marketing agent of NTA.
“It’s a competitive market for pilots, with the low-cost carriers employing a lot of people,” he said. Historically, NetJets Europe gets about 40 percent of its pilots from the military, about 40 percent from the airlines and about 20 percent from general aviation. Minimum flight time and licensing requirements are 1,500 hours total time, 500 hours multi-engine and an ATP license. Pilots must also hold an EC passport. Minimum total time to fly as captain is 3,000 hours, but the average is closer to 5,000 hours, Kelly said.
New-hire captains, regardless their flight experience, are required to fly right seat with an experienced NetJets captain until they learn the company way.
The mix of nationalities represented by the pilots mirrors the company’s customer base, Kelly said. However, no attempt is made to match the nationalities of the flight crews with the customers. “We haven’t found this a language problem because most of the owners speak English. However, we do have a challenge getting the right level of language expertise at our Lisbon call center, because it is often assistants of owners who arrange their flights,” he said.
Also reflecting the mix of nationalities are the most frequented NetJets destinations: London, Paris, Geneva and Nice. Looking at individual airports, Paris Le Bourget gets the most NetJets traffic because the traffic to London is split among several airports. Even so, London City Airport is second on the list, followed by Geneva, Nice and then the other London business aviation airports.
The 30 new jets the company will take this year will bring its total fleet size to 119, including a pre-owned Beech 1900D being used for maintenance support and positioning of flight crew.
Kelly confirmed that charter costs NetJets Europe about $25 million a year but said that this cost is built into the business model. “We expect third-party charter, as a percentage of flights, to decrease but the cost to stay at about $25 million,” he said.
During the last six months of last year NetJets Europe posted an operating profit, Kelly said, explaining that this is defined as net profit before interest costs on aircraft are taken into account. He expects the company to show another operating profit this year and a net profit in 2007.