The pilots union of NetJets is picketing Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting today as the company answers back
NetJets and its pilot’s union, NJASAP, are continuing their battle, and today it is spilling over to the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting.
The gathering in Omaha, Nebraska, is a flagship event for its Chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett.
Dubbed the Woodstock for Capitalists, it draws up to 40,000 attendees.
According to a release from NJASAP, up to 1,000 NetJets pilots and their families will be picketing.
The company has over 3,000 pilots, according to the union.
“Despite the sustained pilot labor crisis, NetJets executives have chosen not to take meaningful steps to attract and to retain talented pilot personnel, putting the brand’s status as the global leader in private air transportation at risk,” NJASAP said in a statement.
READ: NetJets 2023 Pricing: 10 routes the private jet provider costs less than competitors
NJASAP warned, “[As] the pilot shortage tightens its grip on the marketplace, NetJets’s competitive position continues to diminish based on the executive management team’s refusal to acknowledge and to take proactive steps to compete for pilot talent. Absent appropriate competitive adjustments, NetJets has little hope of evading the repercussions of losing talented, experienced pilots to Part 121 carriers who are offering dramatically enhanced packages of compensation and working conditions.”
It concluded, “NJASAP views this head-in-the-sand stance as unfathomable.”
NetJets responds to pilots
For its part, NetJets, which has been mum, launched advertorials on trade websites (below).
According to one post, NetJets “aims to hire 850 pilots this year.”
While the union warned of attrition, the company countered, “For best-in-class aviators, NetJets has long been a coveted career destination, offering a range of inclusive benefits and exclusive advantages that contribute to an over 90% pilot retention rate year after year.”
NJASAP started pickets at high-profile events beginning during the Super Bowl in Arizona in February, and its pilots picketed at The Masters.
Pilots sue NetJets
Last month the pilots union filed a lawsuit against NetJets, alleging it violated Federal labor laws.
At issue is an NJASAP website, Genuine QS, which includes posts such as “NetJets has lost its competitive edge” as well as information about compensation increases from the Part 121 airlines, such as Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines.
It also accuses NetJets of failing to address pilot suggestions about fatigue issues.
In one of the advertorials, the company provides somewhat of a retort.
It notes, “NetJets’ industry-leading Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS) uses a biomathematical model integrated into scheduling software to predict when crewmembers might be nearing lower alertness and get a fresh crew on duty. NetJets has a nonpunitive self-removal policy and does not deduct from a pilot’s salary when a flight is declined because of distraction or unpredictable fatigue, illness, family emergencies, etc.
Prior to departure, NetJets requires both a pilot and dispatcher agree that everything is in order for a safe flight, a unique dual-release protocol that exceeds standard practice”
NJASAP held a similar picket at the Berkshire meeting in 2015.
Earlier this month, over 96% of American Airlines’ 15,000 pilots voted to authorize a strike.
American management had said they were ready to give pilots a 34% increase over four years, with senior pilots earning as much as $590,000.
According to NJASAP, NetJets pilots stand to make $6.2 million during their career, close to regional Skywest at $6.4 million but far from Delta Air Lines at $10.9 million.
Delta pilots agreed to a new agreement with 34% raises in March.
Private aviation trends
The demands for more pay come against a mixed outlook for demand in private jet travel.
While NetJets is sold out of fractional shares until well into 2024, it recently cut the number of blackout dates for its 25-hour leases and started selling jet cards again to non-customers.
WingX data shows the combined charter and fractional market continues to cool, even as competition increases.
Airshare, Thrive Aviation, and Tradewind Aviation all announced expansion into the Florida market despite double-digit declines from 2022’s record levels.