NetJets customers crisscross the world, often giving as little as four hours notice. They essentially get to schedule their own personal airline based on their needs of the day.
One destination that’s probably not on the regular itinerary for most is Columbus, Ohio. That’s the headquarters for the world’s largest private jet operator.
However, that’s the place earlier this week a new billboard popped up adjacent to NetJets’ campus.
The ad, not targeted in this case to customers, reads, “Still soaring. Because of you. Thank you, NetJets Employees.”
Seeing images posted on social media, we reached out to the subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. We were curious if there was a story behind the move, and it turns out there was.
NetJets’ president Patrick Gallagher told us, “Having operated a 24/7/365 business at CMH for 55 plus years, sending most of our 1,500+ Headquarters employees to work from home in mid-March due to COVID-19 was a culture shock, to say the least.”
He added, “The team responded admirably despite challenging conditions and we continued to safely operate hundreds of flights per day and provide impeccable service from our temporary ‘work from home’ environment. As we began to slowly bring people back to the office this month, we wanted to do something special to say thank you to our employees for seeing us through it all so we took over the billboard right outside our campus gates. We have so much to be proud of coming out of this pandemic and that billboard is yet another example.”
It turns out the image on the billboard, a private jet chasing the sun across the shimmering ocean below, also has a story.
“The creative is from an air-to-air shoot that we did in mid-December over California,” Gallagher said.
He noted, “Our team produced a beautiful video which was finished months ago, but we had been waiting for the right time to roll it. With flight volumes really picking up and people coming back into our offices, the billboard went up and we put the video on our website homepage.”
NetJets has seen a similar movement. Gallagher said, “Our daily flight demand went from a peak in mid-March to about 85-90% down in mid-April and has steadily been improving since then.”
He noted, “New first-time customers signing up with NetJets more than doubled what we would typically see in the month of May and this was our biggest month since December 2007, the previous high water mark.”
During the crisis, NetJets has also been in the news for flying emergency medical supplies. It operated multiple missions from China to the U.S. aboard its ultra-long-range Bombardier Global 6000s. It also early on secured COVID-19 tests for all of its pilots.
NetJets hasn’t joined the rush to reduce the number of hours required to join its program. Its cards still start at 25 hours. However, it has been making significant moves on the jet card front.
In addition to providing the FET waiver, NetJets eliminated fuel surcharges on its Marquis Jet Classic jet cards. It also reduced pricing overall, including on its inclusive pricing Elite jet cards.
NetJets accounts for FET at the time of purchase instead of flights. That means card buyers get the 7.5% discount through the life of their jet cards. That’s 24 months or until funds expired, instead of just the year’s end.
The move, which is good for the life of your card, makes NetJets one of the lowest-priced solutions for flights under 30 minutes.
It also addresses demand from new-to-the-market private fliers not only trying to reduce COVID-19 exposure by avoiding the airlines, but those seeking to avoid long drives that might require a rest stop.
For example, the three-to-four hour drive from Westchester County to the Hamptons on Long Island’s west end can be done flying in just 18 minutes. Or, the five-to-six hour drive from Naples, Florida, to Key West is 26 minutes via private jet.