EBACE Convention News

NetJets Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Ancestor’s Founding

 - May 21, 2014, 8:20 AM
NetJets Europe CEO Mark Wilson, left, joins Bombardier Business Aircraft v-p of strategic partnerships Frank Ercolanese marking a landmark date in NetJets’ history.

Fractional-share provider NetJets (Booth 6656) is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of Executive Jet Airways, a U.S. charter and management company that is NetJets’s corporate ancestor. The first celebration took place at an EBACE 2014 event yesterday, held with Bombardier at the static display.

Executive Jet Airways was founded on May 21, 1964, by a group of retired World War II U.S. Air Force generals led by Brigadier General O. F. “Dick” Lassiter. Early board members of Executive Jet Airways included, Retired General Curtis LeMay, a four-star general and vice chief of staff of the Air Force, and former head of the Strategic Air Command; retired General Paul Tibbets, who piloted the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the first nuclear weapon used in war on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945; famed movie actor Jimmy Stewart; radio and TV personality Arthur Godfrey; and business leader M.J. Rathbone, retired board chairman of Standard Oil.

The Executive Jet Airways name was later changed to Executive Jet Aviation (EJA). Richard Santulli, now chairman and CEO of Milestone Aviation Group, acquired EJA in 1984 and launched the fractional aircraft-ownership business in 1986. Berkshire Hathaway purchased EJA in 1998 and changed its name to NetJets in 2002. David Sokol became chairman and CEO of NetJets in 2009, followed by current chairman and CEO Jordan Hansell.

“NetJets is the iconic brand in private aviation and is responsible for many firsts in private aviation,” Hansell said. “Very few companies in any industry reach the golden anniversary milestone, and through the years NetJets has flourished since it was incorporated in 1964 as a result of the hard work, dedication and commitment of its employees worldwide. We are very proud of our past, but we are focused on our future as we commemorate this special occasion.”

Other 50th anniversary celebrations were planned at NetJets’s main headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, yesterday and at the company’s offices in London today and in Lisbon, Portugal, on Friday, according to Marine Eugene-Beveridge, head of sales at NetJets Europe.

Ironically, this coming weekend’s calendar is jam-packed with four major events and one holiday that together make the weekend one of the busiest for NetJets Europe, Eugene-Beveridge told AIN. These are the Grand Prix in Monaco starting on Thursday, the UEFA Champions League Finals in Lisbon starting on Saturday, the Cannes Film Festival closing on Sunday, the French Open in Paris starting on Sunday and a bank holiday in England on Monday.

NetJets reports having more than 700 aircraft in its fleet worldwide, some 6,000 employees around the world and operations in the U.S., Europe and China.