Flashback: Santulli Resigns from NetJets; Changes Ahead at Fractional

 - August 4, 2022, 8:08 AM

With AIN Media Group's Aviation International News and its predecessor Aviation Convention News celebrating the company's 50th year of continuous publication this year, AIN’s editorial staff is going back through the archives each month to bring readers some interesting events that were covered over the past half-century.

REWIND (September 2009): In a major management shake-up at fractional provider NetJets, company founder, chairman, and CEO Richard Santulli on August 4 unexpectedly resigned, effective immediately. Credited as the “father of the fractional aircraft industry,” Santulli said he plans to remain with NetJets as a consultant for at least a year.

Santulli acquired Columbus, Ohio-based Executive Jet Aviation in 1986 as a platform upon which to launch NetJets, which initially struggled but grew substantially by the mid-1990’s. Berkshire Hathaway chairman and billionaire Warren Buffet, a NetJets shareholder, was so impressed with Santulli’s NetJets that he bought the firm in 1998 for $725 million, and per Buffett’s custom, kept the company management in place.

“After 25 years of working with the most talented group of people I could even have imagined, who helped build the premier aviation company in the world, I have decided to step down…to spend some more time with my young family and pursue other interests” Santulli said in a statement.

FAST FORWARD: Following his NetJets departure, Santulli did not remain idle for long. A year later he co-founded Dublin-based aircraft leasing company Milestone Aviation and remained there until 2016, resigning at the age of 72. At the time, the company had one of the world’s largest helicopter fleets, worth $3.7 billion and had orders and options for new aircraft worth $3.2 billion.

NetJets weathered the global economic downturn to emerge stronger than ever as the world’s largest private aviation company. Its fleet today numbers more than 800 jets ranging from the Embraer Phenom 300 to the Bombardier Global 7500. It expects to bolster that total, adding 80 new aircraft this year alone, with scores more on order.