Jet Professionals, a flight-department staffing specialist, is on hand at NBAA announcing a new human resources offering it believes could revolutionize business for smaller aviation companies. The Jet Aviation subsidiary (Booth No. 3594) has unveiled its Jet-Pro PEO, which it describes as the only professional employer organization exclusive to business aviation. The Jet-Pro PEO provides personnel administration and payroll services in addition to tax compliance and filing duties for small and midsize companies. By leveraging the buying power of parent company General Dynamics, Jet Professionals believes it can provide company benefits such as medical, dental and vision coverage along with life insurance and workers’ compensation, at a level and price point previously untouchable by a company with fewer than 200 employees.
“We provide economies of scale similar to a Fortune 100 company and therefore we are allowing the companies to save a significant amount of money, hopefully, and be able to provide them with a better benefit plan, better payroll process and streamlined administration at less cost than what they are paying now,” said George Kythreotis, Jet Professionals’ vice president and general manager. The program, which had been under development for nearly a year, had its soft opening last month and is ready for full-scale operation. “It’s a co-employment relationship where clients maintain operational control over their employees and we are the back-office support services supplier,” noted Kythreotis. He said several customers have shown interest in the PEO, which recently signed its first client.
At a time when many companies looking for areas to contain soaring costs are targeting employee benefit packages, Jet Professionals believes this program could attract companies looking for skilled talent by permitting them to offer a more attractive benefits package. “With this [professional organization], the game changes. It affords and allows companies that are smaller in size to play with bigger company benefits,” Kythreotis told AIN. “I believe this product will improve the basic benefits and payroll infrastructure of small to midsize companies, the companies that have been the heart and soul of this industry but have had a hard time over the last several years.”
Jet Professionals, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year, has seen its global core business of permanent and contract flight-department staffing nearly triple over the past few years, leading the Teterboro, N.J.-based company to open new offices in St. Louis, Houston and West Palm Beach, Fla., in addition to its locations in Basel, Switzerland and Abu Dhabi. The expansion will continue with the opening of two California offices by the end of the year as well as at a yet-to-be-finalized location in Asia. The company’s U.S. headquarters currently handles its South American business, but Jet Professionals expects to open an office in Brazil by next year. In August, it signed an agreement with Lider Aviação to provide ferry pilots to deliver aircraft purchased in the U.S. to Lider’s customers in Brazil.
Demand for Contract Staff
Jet Professionals, which can staff all aspects of a flight department from pilots to flight attendants and dispatchers to maintenance staff, noted a recent strong demand for contract staffing. “In a downturn what we’ve noticed in respect to the core staffing business is it’s been more of ‘try before you buy,’” said Kythreotis. “In that respect is we’ve been able to cater to the industry.” Under that “payroll” model, companies needing staff but nervous about hiring full-time employees can contract with Jet Professionals to fill vacant positions for periods of time ranging from per diem to six months or longer. The flight department receives the employees’ services and maintains operational control over them in a no-strings-attached lease arrangement, but they are employees of Jet Professionals. The human resource specialist pays their salaries and provides their benefits, workers’ compensation and personal liability insurance for as long as needed until the employees’ services are no longer required or until the flight department hires them.
The pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction as the number of available qualified domestic crewmembers has recently declined. “I believe supply and demand in our industry has certainly equalized over the last 12 months,” said Kythreotis. He added that in the past a listing for a crew position might attract dozens of respondents, but due to the expansion of business aviation in Asia and the Middle East, the skill sets possessed by U.S. and European pilots have become a valuable commodity, forcing potential employers to intensify their search tactics.
While Jet Professionals maintains a database of more than 10,000 qualified and prescreened crewmembers, the company is investing in technology that will augment the list by allowing its recruiters to conduct interviews with prospective talent around the world through mobile electronics such as iPads, iPhones and Android devices.