Sources Say NetJets To Thrive After Surprise Sokol Exit

 - March 31, 2011, 1:07 PM

Yesterday’s announcement that NetJets chairman and CEO David Sokol resigned from his post at that company and two other Berkshire Hathaway-owned firms took the aviation industry, Wall Street and just about everyone else by surprise. Sokol notably turned NetJets around, yet his elimination of redundant aircraft and personnel at the top from the fractional-jet provider was not without its critics. Dan Dugger, a former NetJets sales v-p and now president of pre-owned fractional-share outfit Fractrade, asked if NetJets president Jordan Hansell, who is taking over Sokol’s job, “is ready to run the fractional giant with such short notice.” Sokol was aided by the financial strength of NetJets’ customers and “the die-hard belief of its talented employees in their product,” Dugger said. “Now, with most of the turnaround complete, it’s time for NetJets to get back to the basics of what made it the biggest name in the business.  The secret to NetJets’s success is marketing its management product as an exclusive club for deserving members.” A knowledgeable source, who requested anonymity, told AIN, “I suspect some former employees of NetJets are singing ‘ding, dong, the witch is dead.’ [I’ve met] some who seem to have gotten rubbed the wrong way.” Nevertheless, the source added, “I think NetJets is better than before Sokol came.” The company’s recent, big Embraer and Bombardier orders “will stay in place,” the source said. “The Phenom 300s and Globals are part of the strategy to reduce the number of models. NetJets is clearly positioning itself to support its brand to have the latest equipment.” NetJets declined AIN’s request for comment.