Contract talks between NetJets management and pilots broke down once again on September 12, three days shy of a scheduled 30-day marathon bargaining session. The pilots’ union negotiation committee said it walked out of the talks “because the company has continuously failed to respond to the union’s position regarding the pilot group’s bargaining thresholds,” namely salary expectations.
In the first eight months of this year, the top five fractional operators hired more pilots than they did in all of last year, according to aviation job placement firm AIR of Atlanta. NetJets, Flight Options, Flexjet, CitationShares and Avantair hired 498 pilots through August this year versus 482 for all of last year.
Fractional ownership provider NetJets Europe has launched a dedicated operation for the Scottish market. Through NetJets Scotland the company will offer flights to and from 17 Scottish airports, including the Royal Air Force bases at Lossiemouth, Leuchars (close to the exclusive St. Andrews golf course) and Kinloss.
Three of the five Flight Options pilots who have been trying to organize the fractional pilot group under IBT Local 1108 (the same union that represents NetJets pilots), told AIN that they soon expect to have enough organizing cards to call a vote. They claim to have 400 organizing cards from Flight Options pilots, though they need 550–or 65 percent of the 848-strong pilot workforce–to call a vote.
Four years after their contract became “amendable,” the unionized NetJets pilots may finally have a new work agreement. On October 8, the bargaining committee for pilots at Berkshire Hathaway-owned fractional provider NetJets reached a tentative agreement (TA) with the company.
A new European fractional ownership program that will begin operations this month is offering shares in pre-owned Cessna Citation CJ1s. UK-based European Business Jets (EBJ) was launched through a $3.7 million share flotation on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM small companies market in April. It expects to operate a fleet of five CJ1s by year-end and to double that number by the end of next year.
Marquis Jet card owners and guests now have access to medical support from the famed Mayo Clinic of Rochester, Minn., while they are on a NetJets aircraft or at their destination anywhere in the world, 24 hours per day. Marquis Jet sells 25-hour blocks of travel time exclusively on NetJets aircraft.
Fractional provider NetJets has ordered 50 AirCell ST 3100 Iridium satellite communication systems for its fleet of Hawker 400XP light business jets. The satellite phones will be installed in the 400XPs before retail delivery at Raytheon Aircraft Services in San Antonio, in the coming months, according to AirCell, which began marketing Iridium services in 2002.
Contract negotiations between NetJets management and the leadership of Local 1108, which represents the fractional provider’s pilots, seem to have gone from bad to worse, according to the union. The union said that mediated negotiations last month didn’t bring the two groups together but split them farther apart. NetJets management declined to comment.
Holders of the Marquis Jet Card will have new restrictions that will require they book flights farther in advance during peak travel times. Also, starting June 1, cards must be purchased 60 days in advance of a peak travel period to fly during that period. Card holders will also no longer be guaranteed their subscribed airplane model, but only one in its size group during peak travel days.