After several years of cost reductions, layoffs, closings and general malaise, there are definite signs that a slow economic recovery is starting to have a positive effect on the business aviation industry, and many in the interior completion and refurbishment business are breathing a sigh of relief.
After more than two-and-a-half years of negotiations for a new contract, the union representing some 1,900 NetJets pilots is closer to resolving their differences with NetJets management. According to Dave Vermeulen, chairman of the pilot’s union master executive council, the two sides recently reached agreement over benefits and an improved system for handling pilot grievances, disciplinary actions and terminations.
The fractional aircraft industry continued to grow during the 12 months ending April 30. Shares at the four major providers and 16 regional/local companies tracked by AvData of Wichita increased 7.2 percent, to more than 6,350. During the same period, the combined fleet expanded 5.1 percent, to 832 aircraft. Flexjet, alone among the four major providers, lost ground during the period.
NetJets Europe has launched a new NetJets Corporate Card program to market smaller blocks of flight time in its fractional-ownership fleet without the need to acquire an aircraft share. At the same time, it has rebranded Marquis Private Jet Card as the NetJets Private Jet Card, with NetJets having taken control of the London-based Marquis Jet Partners Europe operation.
David Horton was named president of Heli-Dyne Systems, an affiliate of CJ Systems Aviation Group. Horton reports to CJ Systems president and COO Larry Pietropaulo following a recent restructuring of Heli-Dyne Systems under both companies’ parent, FSS Airholdings. He held prominent positions at both Bell Helicopter and American Eurocopter.
Bookajet International, the UK executive charter operator that rose from the ashes of bankrupt Chauffair, is now hiring pilots, mechanics, sales and support staff as it seeks to expand its business from a new base at Southampton Airport. Last month the company relocated from Farnborough Airport into the former Signature Aircraft Engineering facility at the south coast of England airport.
Executive Jet Management, the aircraft management and charter arm of NetJets, saw its revenue charter business rise by a healthy 36 percent last year, to 4,100 segments. All told, the 100-plus aircraft that the company manages flew some 28,000 segments last year, 2,000 of them international.
Profits soared last year at Warren Buffett’s holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, though not all of the company’s divisions did well. In his annual letter to shareholders released last month, the investment mogul summarized the reduced performance of FlightSafety International and NetJets– the two largest companies in their respective fields of simulator training and fractional ownership.
Spain traditionally has lagged in Europe’s business aviation market. Although its fleet of around 80 jets and 42 turboprops for corporate or private use is the continent’s fifth biggest, Gruppo Gestair, Europe’s third largest operator, dominates and Spain commands only about 3 percent of the continent’s market.
A “much improved situation is emerging at NetJets,” according to Warren Buffett, chairman of parent company Berkshire Hathaway. In his annual letter to stockholders, published February 28, Buffett said NetJets has “never had a problem growing. But profits had been erratic.”