The five major fractional operators fell short of AIR’s projected pilot hiring levels last year, according to statistics prepared by the Atlanta-based aviation employment consultant. The major players–Avantair, CitationShares, Flexjet, Flight Options and NetJets–hired 674 new pilots, more than 300 shy of AIR’s January 2006 estimate that 1,000 pilots would be required.
NetJets Europe pilots have yet to form their planned trade union and now there are signs that the movement to do so might be losing momentum as flight crews consider the revised pay and conditions offer the fractional ownership group made in early December.
Long-time business aviation leader Jim Christiansen might be feeling a little déjà vu after his appointment last month as president of NetJets Aviation in Columbus, Ohio. From 1990 to 1992 he was president of Executive Jet Aviation, as the company was known then.
Following up on a tentative agreement reached nearly nine months ago, Raytheon Aircraft and NetJets signed a contract for the purchase of 50 Hawker 4000s (née Horizons) for the latter company’s fractional fleet. In addition, there is a separate 10-year guaranteed maintenance program. Raytheon Aircraft said the combined total value of these contracts will exceed $1 billion, the largest single commercial order in the company’s history.
CitationShares v-p of flight operations and chief pilot J.D. Witzig on Tuesday confirmed that the fractional provider will raise its pilot wages as of January 1. These higher wages will raise the bar above what the NetJets pilots negotiated in the contract they ratified last month, meaning that CitationShares pilots will become the best-paid in the fractional industry.
NetJets chairman and CEO Richard Santulli announced that long-time business aviation leader Jim Christiansen “will be assuming the position of president of NetJets Aviation,” in Columbus, Ohio. Santulli said, “With Jim's depth of experience, there is no one who knows our business better.” The position has been unfilled since Bill Boisture resigned in January 2006 after joining the fractional operator in October 2003.
Bill Boisture, 59, yesterday resigned as president of NetJets Aviation, a position he held since joining the fractional provider in October 2003. Boisture, who recently formed W. Boisture & Associates, has been retained by NetJets as a consultant to “support and assist the company on several strategic projects.” During his two-year tenure he was the company’s front-line negotiator with the pilot and flight attendant unions.
Reporting today on its year-end results, Raytheon said that Raytheon Aircraft delivered 255 turbine business airplanes last year (141 jets and 114 King Airs) compared with 219 (115 jets and 104 King Airs) in 2004. This was an increase of 16.4 percent year over year, just short of Raytheon’s revised forecast of 267 turbine business airplanes.
The major U.S. fractional providers appear to be poised for growth this year, if estimates of pilot hiring and aircraft delivery intake are accurate. NetJets recently said it plans to hire 450 pilots this year, and New York-based analyst UBS Investment Research predicts that the New Jersey-based fractional provider will take delivery of 76 business jets by year-end.
Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett, in his latest annual letter to shareholders issued Saturday, said the company’s flight services division–FlightSafety and NetJets–reported $120 million in pre-tax earnings versus $191 million in 2004. According to Buffett, “Earnings improved at FlightSafety as corporate aviation continued its rebound…[but] operating results at NetJets were a different story.